Category Archives: Avant Garde

ANDREW HILL-SMOKE STACK.

Andrew Hill-Smoke Stack. Label: Blue Note Records. Format: Vinyl. By the time Chicago-born pianist Andrew Hill released his sophomore album Black Fire on Blue Note Records in 1964, he was already thirty-two, and was making up for lost time. He had only started to play the piano when he was thirteen but made rapid progress. …

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PYRAMID PIECES 1:MODAL AND ECO JAZZ FROM AUSTRALIA 1969-1979.

Pyramid Pieces 1: Modal and Eco Jazz From Australia 1969-1979. Label: Roundtable. Over the last few years, independent and major record labels have released compilations of American, British, European and Japanese jazz. They’ve focused on everything from bebop and hard bop to modal and modern right through to avant-garde, free and spiritual jazz. It’s been …

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AKSAK MABOUL-FIGURES.

Aksak Maboul-Figures. Label: Crammed Discs.  Nowadays, there aren’t many bands that are still together and releasing new albums after five decades. The same can be said of record labels founded in the seventies. Sadly, bands and record labels aren’t enjoying the same longevity in the modern music business.  All too often, bands release a couple …

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SEAHAWKS-ISLAND VISIONS.

Seahawks-Island Visions. Label: Be With Records. Ten years ago in 2010, Jon Tye and Pete Fowler embarked upon a new chapter in their career when they released Ocean Trippin’, which was their debut album as Seahawks. Since then, the intrepid musical explorers have released at least one, sometimes two or even three albums a year. …

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CULT CLASSIC: LARAAJI: VISION SONGS VOLUME 1.

Cult Classic: Laraaji: Vision Songs Volume 1. During a career that has spanned five decades, American multi-instrumentalist Laraaji has released around thirty albums and countless collaborations. Many of these albums were self released by Laraaji on cassettes, and feature his unique and inimitable genre-melting sound. This best described as a fusion of ambient, avant-garde, experimental …

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ANDREAS ROYSUM ENSEMBLE-ANDREAS ROYSUM ENSEMBLE.

Andreas Røysum Ensemble-Andreas Røysum Ensemble. Label: Motvind Records. Over the last decade, the Norwegian jazz scene  has been thriving, and today is one of the most vibrant in Europe as a new generation of up-and-coming musicians follow their dreams to make a living playing jazz. They hope to follow in the footsteps of Jan Garbarek, …

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JACKIE MCLEAN-A FICKLE SONANCE.

Jackie McLean-A Fickle Sonance. Label: Blue Note Records. On October the ’26th’ 1961, thirty year old alto-saxophonist Jackie McLean made the now familiar journey to the Van Gelder Studio, at 445 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, to record a new album with his quintet. The album became A Fickle Sonance, which was released in …

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DUKE ELLINGTON, CHARLIE MINGUS, MAX ROACH-MONEY JUNGLE.

Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus, Max Roach-Money Jungle. Label: Blue Note Records. On Monday, September the ‘17th’ 1962, bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach made their way to Sound Makers Studio, in New York. The two friends were en route to a session where they would record an album with one of the giants of …

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CULT CLASSIC: CLAUDE LOMBARD-CHANTE.

Cult Classic: Claude Lombard-Chante. By 1969, twenty-four year old Belgian chanteuse Claude Lombard had been involved in the music industry for seven years, and had already written several scores and appeared as a session singer on numerous singles.  Claude Lombard had also represented Belgium at Eurovision Song Contest and released a number of singles during …

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SUN RA-CELESTIAL LOVE.

Sun Ra-Celestial Love. Label: Modern Harmonic. Nowadays, maybe music journalists are guilty of using the words innovator and musical pioneer all too freely, but that is the perfect description of the inimitable Sun Ra. He’s quite rightly regarded as one of the true pioneers of free jazz and a truly innovative and influential musician who pushed musical …

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CULT CLASSIC: PYRAMID-PYRAMID.

Cult Classic: Pyramid-Pyramid. Although Winston Churchill’s said: “it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” in the context of Russia, what’s become one of his most famous quotations can just as easily be applied to Robin Page’s Pyramid Records which has been the source of heated debate for over twenty years. This …

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HERBIE HANCOCK-THE PRISONER.

Herbie Hancock-The Prisoner. Label: Blue Note Records.   In the summer of 1968 Herbie Hancock left Miles Davis Quintet to form his own group. This was a risky move, but one he felt he had to make to develop as a composer, bandleader and pianist. During the summer of 1968 Herbie Hancock also released his …

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ELVIND AAARSET I JAN BANG-SNOW CATCHES ON HER EYELASHES.

Eivind Aarset I Jan Bang-Snow Catches On Her Eyelashes. Label: Jazzland Recordings. Although Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang have been collaborating since the early nineties, the pair have never recorded an album as a duo. That was until they recorded Snow Catches On Her Eyelashes, which was recently released by Jazzland Recordings. It features ten …

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SPIRITUAL JAZZ VOLUME 11: STEEPLECHASE.

Spiritual Jazz Volume 11: SteepleChase. Label: Jazzman.  In 1959, Anders Dyrup founded Jazzhus Montmartre, which was situated in Dahlerupsgade, in the Danish capital Copenhagen. On the opening night, American  clarinetist George Lewis had been booked to play and performed there for a fortnight. He was the first of many great jazz musicians who played at …

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GARD NILSSEN’S SUPERSONIC ORCHESTRA-IF YOU LISTEN CAREFULLY THE MUSIC IS YOURS.

Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra-If You Listen Carefully The Music Is Yours. Label: Odin Records. To say that bandleader, composer, drummer and percussionist Gard Nilssen is a prolific musician is something of an understatement. Since 2007, he has played on over seventy albums by all types of groups. Mostly, it’s been with small groups including the …

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MIKE WESTBROOK-LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING: CITADEL/ROOM 315 SWEDEN 74.

Mike Westbrook-Love and Understanding: Citadel/Room 315 Sweden 74. Label: My Only Desire Records. By 1974, composer and pianist Mike Westbrook was thirty-eight and one of the leading lights of the British jazz scene. He had come a long way since he formed his first band in 1958 when he was an art student studying painting. …

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TEA AND SYMPHONY-AN ASYLUM FOR THE MUSICALLY INSANE.

Tea and Symphony-An Asylum For The Musically Insane. Label: Magic Box. When the original lineup of Tea and Symphony was founded in Birmingham, England, in the late-sixties, they were an acoustic group who have since been compared to Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex. The group was founded by Jeff Daw, James Langston and Nigel Phillips, but …

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MILES DAVIS-BITCHES BREW AT 50.

Miles Davis-Bitches Brew At 50. Although Miles Davis’ recording career began in 1951, when he released his debut album The New Sounds, he soon had established a reputation as a prolific, and innovative musician. He released further forty-three albums between 1951 and 1969. This included classics like 1957s Round About Midnight and 1959s Kind Of Blue. …

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CULT CLASSIC: GARY BARTZ-LOVE SONG.

Cult Classic: Gary Bartz-Love Song. By 1976, saxophonist Gary Bartz’s reputation was on the rise.This came as no surprise to those within the jazz community. Already, Gary Bartz had played with some of the biggest names in jazz. Especially before he formed his own band in 1969. Baltimore born Gary Bartz had started his career …

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CULT CLASSIC: HOLGER CZUKAY-MOVIES.

Cult Classic: Holger Czukay-Movies. By 1979, Holger Czukay’s career was at a crossroads, after Can the group he cofounded in 1968, had split-up.  After releasing eleven albums in eleven years, one of music’s most innovative groups were no more. This came as no surprise to Holger Czukay, who was about to resume his solo career. …

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