Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Travelling - 1973 - Voici La Nuit Tombée

Travelling 
1973 
Voici La Nuit Tombée
 


01. Voici La Nuit Tombée (18:00)
02. Flamenco (4:02)
03. Passo (3:05)
04. Soleil (3:03)
05. Tout Compte Fait (3:27)
06. Shema (3:06)


Yves Hasselmann/ piano, Hammond organ, vocals
Jacques Goure/ bass
Roger Gremillot/ drums


TRAVELLING were a trio from France who released only one album(1973). The organ and piano dominates their sound that is without question Canterbury flavoured. SOFT MACHINE had to be an influence on these guys as the vocal style and fuzz organ certainly bring them to mind. This band does have it's own sound though and I love it. The side long opening track is one of the best songs that i've heard in a while. What a pleasure to listen to. Pure joy indeed.
"Voici La Nuit Tombee" is an 18 minute ride that I have taken over and over again this past week. It opens with cymbals and bass before the organ quickly joins the fray, and it sounds fantastic. A full sound before a minute that includes piano, fuzz organ, bass and drums. Organ and piano then create a piece of heaven before the vocals come in. The light drums, organ and vocals are other worldly. Did I mention I love this song ? Piano joins in. Vocals stop as fuzz organ returns. I could listen to this all day. Vocals are back after 6 minutes. The fuzz organ comes and goes. The piano takes the lead with bass and light drums 8 minutes in. This section is very jazzy. A spacey, experimental, eerie passage arrives before 10 1/2 minutes that changes 2 minutes later as an uptempo organ, light drums and bass melody arrives. Fuzz organ after 14 minutes. A change a minute later as piano again takes the lead. Vocals are back 17 minutes in. Amazing song !

"Flamenco" features more bass, drums and piano. The vocal melodies a minute in are outstanding and a nice touch. Perhaps a nod to Mr.Wyatt. Some fuzz bass after that with organ. Piano starts to take over.This song blends into the next one "Passo". The uptempo piano melodies continue but bass and drums help out here. This song then blends into "Soleil" as piano melodies continue to dominate. Before 2 minutes we get some fuzz organ joining the piano melodies. "Tout Compte Fait" opens with slower paced piano as the organ provides a nice background. This song blends into the final track "Shema".This sounds better than the previous song because bass, light drums and vocal melodies are added.

This is another French band that has impressed me to pieces. I had heard about them on the ProgEars site and am so thankful I did. A must have for Jazz and Canterbury fans.

Triode - 1971 - On N'A Pas Fini D'Avoir Tout Vu

Triode 
1971 
On N'A Pas Fini D'Avoir Tout Vu



01. Magic Flower (5:32)
02. Misomaque (2:58)
03. Moulos Grimpos (4:06)
04. Blahsha (4:20)
05. Lilie (4:50)
06. Ibiza Flight (4:49)
07. Adeubis (2:44)
08. Come Together (4:46)
09. Chimney Suite (8:54)

- Pierre Chereze / guitars
- Pierre Yves Sorin / bass
- Didier Hauck / drums
- Michel Edelin / flute


One of the most delightful and charming little albums you're ever likely to come across, Triode's sole album is the sort of album that washes your hair before it sings gently in your ear.

With a flute song from distant gardens and a genuine feel of 1970s nostalgia with twinkling cymbals, wooden congas and a slow coarse guitar that sweeps its way through the music like a janitor on acid, - the music filling up your room is one of slow hazy psychedelia lead jazz rock. Every time I play this one, I get the feeling of sitting on a heather shrouded meadow with all kinds of freaky people hanging around on the grass - eating fruits, grooming beards, jumping through fiery hoops, making love in trees and generally just having a funky good old time with everything. This music is being played continuously from up on high, where small midgety folks have decorated the forest treetop line with dozens of Bose speakers. It gives off a certain frivolous kitchen-party-in-the-rough kind of feel, and instantly makes people feel better about their lives, what they're doing with it, and perhaps moreover forget everything nasty in it. Triode feed off your willingness to become one with your lawn, and while not far off Jethro Tull's bluesy flute rock debut - this one seems altogether more with it - in tune with the times surrounding it. Sure it sounds like it was made in 69 with all the bluesyness of the guitars and bass licks, yet the nicely recorded percussions as well as the delicate and jazzy flute make this thing into something timeless.

I like to listen to this at parties, where I sneak in with my I-pod and wait for people's incompetence to play music continuously, and then swooof like a great big leopard I swoop over the controls and let this wonderful chill, saucy, funky, warm, electric, sweaty, jazzy, bluesy and earthy like the very colour of its cover art - music roll over the unsuspecting crowd.

There is indeed something earthy about Triode. An immense musical root network which has buried its feet deep beneath the surface of the soil........... Maybe that's why I always get these hippie images of heathers and people partying on lawns with this thing? Either way, it's the single most alluring part of this album - that warm, earthy feel permeating it.

I played this to my black bird friend I've named Charlie. He sits in the highest pine tree in my folks' garden. Come noon he'll be tooting his horn about whatever it is that birds talk about (Flying methods and possible readjustments perhaps?), and here the other day I had this album playing from a small pair of MP3 speakers resting cosily in an Agave cactus. The moods of the flute seemed to interest him, and at one point I was under the impression that he threw a spastic fit, during a flute spitting manoeuvre of one of the more rocking sections - completely out of his head jumping halfway down the branch - collecting himself enough to jumble back on top of it with an intensive and life invigorating PEEEEP - the likes I normally only hear when there's brown feathered women about him.

So there you have it. This album is so good, it naturally attracts different species. Just think about what amazing get togethers you could throw, if you would be able to expect giraffes and squirrels attending.

Horde Catalytique Pour la Fin - 1971 - Gestation Sonore

Horde Catalytique Pour la Fin 
1971 
Gestation Sonore


01. Gestation Sonore 1 - 12:48
02. Gestation Sonore 2 - 3:55
03. Gestation Sonore 3 - 4:05
04. Gestation Sonore 4 - 19:24

- Richard Accart / Saxophone tenor,flutes
- Francky Bourlier / Harpe de verre, flute, vibraphone, percussions
- Jacques Fassola / Contrebasse, guitare, banjo, orgue a bouche
- Gil Sterg / Drums et percussions



"Gestation Sonore" is the only album to be released by the French improvisational quartet "Horde Catalytique Pour La Fin"; which rightfully found its way onto the infamous Nurse With Wound list. The four piece line-up consisted of Richard Accart (Saxophone tenor, flutes), Francky Bourlier (Harpe de verrer, flute, vibraphone, percussions), Jacques Fassola (Contrebasse, guitar, banjo, Orgue a bouche) and Gil Sterg (Drums and percussion).

Released in 1971 on the legendary Futura label, this ultra-rare LP binds the idiocratic tendencies of Free-Jazz and Avant-garde into four intriguing tracks. Staying true to their improvisational ideals the album was record entirely without a predetermined score; with each group member focusing their spontaneous creativity to connect an effortless mind flow between the individual musicians. References for this band come from far and wide, with leafs being taken from likes of early improvisational-ist AMM and Limbus 3. The album weaves its way through dark and moody passages crowned with droning psych like characteristics, only to abruptly cut loose with Skronky onslaughts.

For an improvisational collection the album possess a rare flow from passage to passage; not to mention the wealth of textures and emotion flaunted. This being said, "Gestation Sonore" will test many casual listens into the point of despair. The albums true beauty works on a more subtle level, so don't abandon hope after the first spin.

This is grim stuff indeed. From the outset there's 'skronk' jazz saxophone with a splattering of other tuneless instruments randomly fired at the listener. Bangs, crashes, tinkles and what sounds like someone using a rubber hammer inside a grand piano will give you some idea of what you're about to endure for the next 39 minutes .
If any similarities could be made - it would be with 'AMM' who sounded more sure of their abilities and were heavier in execution. I guess it's also similar to early 'Nurse With Wound', but without the black humour, vocals and tape manipulation.

Recorded in one night at the 'Theatre de Nice' on 26th February 1971, 'Gestation Sonore' is a very difficult listen. Only the bleak soundscapes and creepy flutes hold my attention here. They remind me quite a lot of my earliest childhood TV memory - 'The Clangers'. However if you forced 100 people to listen to this (it would have to be at gun-point, by the way), I can guarantee you that no more than five would reach the end.

There are no hooks, no tunes with just a grey smog prevailing. It's also quite flat sounding in its production, without any feeling of depth.

The dissonant approach does grow on me after 10 minutes. It helps if you can switch off that musical part of your brain and just take it for what it is - a random, garbled collection of acoustic instruments played without any sense of timing or purpose.

Some of the percussion work is quite interesting, sounding like it's being played on children's toys - a bit like the 'Tom and Jerry' cartoons. To tell you the truth, towards the end I was actually starting to enjoy this. However, the sheer alienness of sound will deter even the hardiest of Prog listeners.

This surely has to be one of the most inaccessible recordings in the entire blog... but somehow I keep coming back to it

Red Noise - 1970 - Sarcelles-Lochères

Red Noise
1970 
Sarcelles-Lochères

 

01. Cosmic, Toilet Ditty (0:40)
02. Caka Slow / Vertebrate Twist (4:21)
03. Obsession Sexuelle, No.1 (0:29)
04. Galactic Sewer-Song (4:04)
05. Obsession Sexuelle, No.2 (0:12)
06. Red Noise Live Au Café Des Sports (2:08)
07. Existential-Import Of The Screw-Driver Eternity Twist (2:03)
08. 20 Miror Mozarts Composing On Tea Bag And 1/2 Cup-Bra (2:29)
09. Red Noise En Direct Du Buffet De La Gare (2:15)
10. A La Mémoire Du Rockeur Inconnu (0:40)
11. Petit Précis D'Instruction Civique (0:36)
12. Sarcelles C'est L'Avenir (18:56)

- Philip Barry / guitar, drums, voices
- Austin Blue / percussion
- Jean Claude Cencu / flute, saxophone, voices, wind
- Daniel Geoffroy / bass, electric bass, voices
- John Livengood / organ, hammond organ
- Patrick Vian / guitar, voices



RED NOISE were formed as a French anarchic outfit in late 1960s by Patrick VIAN (guitar), a son of a French poet / writer / jazz musician Boris Vian. It's said they've played on stage defended in barricades in Université Sorbonne. They released one and only album "Sarcelles Lochères" in 1970 and soon were disbanded in the same year. Their indomitable spirit for rock music could be taken over by another French project named KOMINTERN.
Anyway, Patrick Vian should be a tremendous talent methinks. Later he released a solo album as a synthesizer player (not a guitarist), and in his solo work, we can find another gem slightly different from This RED NOISE's interesting noises, named "Sarcelles-Locheres".

Back to the topic, as if not 40 years ago, we can hear flood of progressiveness deeply under cynical (and usually nasty) phrases. Sometimes they slip away upon a wee-wet sheet in a toilet under such a sensual saxophone solo, and sometimes are immersed in poo-poo song ... but I feel their appearance might be very serious, even in such a pleasant and relaxing mood upon the vinyl (especially upon the Side A). In the mysterious and funny atmosphere of RIO, there are lots of beautiful sound stones created by the "serious" players. (For me the saxophone sounds are very addictive.)

And finally, the last song "Sarcelles C'est L'avenir" is exactly a serious battle play among all "serious" players. Improvised spiritual sounds shot by keen soundlauchers could rage like a hurricane, but they should not be destructive but absolutely creative. Let me say that's an much united infernal cry, full of intensive psychedelic & Kraut-ish aggression. 18 minutes is very short in RED NOISE theatre.

Patrick Vian - 1976 - Bruits et Temps Analogues

Patrick Vian 
1976 
Bruits et Temps Analogues


01. Sphère (6:10)
02. Grosse Nacht Musik (5:05)
03. Oreknock (6:45)
04. Old Vienna (2:10)
05. R & B Degenerit! (6:10)
06. Barong Rouge (4:10)
07. Tunnel 4, Red Noise (4:30)
08. Bad Blue (1:56)
09. Tricentennial Drag (2:20)

- Georges Granier / electric piano, marimba, noises
- Mino Cinelu / drums, percussion
- Bernard Lavialle / guitar
- Patrick Vian / Moog synthesizer, ARP 2600, Moog sequencer, piano


The recording career of little-known French musician Patrick Vian, son of novelist and jazz trumpeter Boris Vian, began with the sound of someone using and then flushing a toilet. Fortunately, from such inauspicious beginnings came great wonder. That recording, as part of the prog-leaning group Red Noise, came from their sole album from 1970, Sarcelles - Lochères. The band subsequently split in two, mirroring the actions of German krautrock collective Amon Düül. While one half of the group soldiered on under the name Komintern, Vian was preparing his masterwork. Released six years after Sarcelles - Lochères, the playful spirit of that album remained on Bruits et Temps Analogues, even if the tools for getting the job done were remarkably different. Here, Vian cooks up a form of cosmic jazz, made with the aid of various Moog and ARP synths, plus a backing band that includes drummer Mino Cinelu (Weather Report, Miles Davis, Gong).
It's the type of recording that's circulated in small underground circles for years, partly abetted by Vian's inclusion (along with Red Noise) on Nurse With Wound's notorious list of artists that inspired them. There's a sense of a beginning rather than an end, a feeling that Vian was onto something that he could have developed further. Instead, he fell silent in subsequent decades, just leaving this singular recording hanging. Vian leans heavily on his analog arsenal, but there's plenty of room for bursts of guitar noodling (courtesy of Bernard Lavialle) and Cinelu's impeccably fussy rolls. The circular, clean-cut guitar riff that drives "Sphere" even sounds like a precursor to the Sea and Cake's central sound. But this is an album that doesn't stay in place for long. Sometimes it's purely made up of intricately overlapping keyboard parts, similar in tone to Harald Grosskopf's analog wanderings; elsewhere there's an airy, new age feel; on "Old Vienna" a form of mania sets in, as rhythms escalate wildly in tempo.
The way the album lurches in mood adds to the mystery, with the quirky parts bolted on to more somber fare, occasionally making it sound like a Moog demonstration record that was intended to be taken utterly seriously. Vian's motivations for making this are anyone's guess, but somehow he managed to sequence it so a crazy burst of machine noise could effortlessly slide into a piece of elegant Moog-driven funk and then back out into utter chaos again ("R & B Degenerit !"). Of course there were many other artists testing out the boundaries of old ARP synths and similar instruments during the 70s, but here Vian demonstrates both a mastery of the tools at his disposal and a wide-open mind as to where they could take him. His work with Red Noise awkwardly hopped through an array of genres, but here there's a more seamless blend, with his keyboard work tying together all the maniacal shifts charging through his mind.
This reissue of Bruits et Temps Analogues by the Staubgold label doesn't add anything to what came before; no outtakes, no demos, no lost material excavated from the vaults. It's better that way, leaving something of the original spirit of the LP intact. What's most perplexing about Vian's short career is the breadcrumb trail he left behind here, offering hints of further experimentation to come. "Tricentennial Drag" appears to be leading us somewhere else altogether via a series of primitive cut-ups, bursts of sheer aggression, and blaring police sirens. It was nothing particularly new for the time, perhaps even a little dated when you consider the White Noise were working in a similar zone some eight years prior. But it sounds like the germ of an idea he was about to exploit. Instead, all that’s left is this, sealed by a back cover image of Vian that's easy to romanticize, depicting him rowing away on an old wooden canoe to some unspecified destination.

French artist Patrick Vian, formerly of Seventies avant group Red Noise, released his one solo album `Bruits Et Temps Analogues' in 1976, and what a baffling yet intriguing electronic-related album it is. A colourful and confusing work that perhaps occupies the mindset of Vangelis' unconventional albums from the same decade, or even Manuel Göttsching's Ashra in just a few moments, but without leaving quite as much of an impression as those works did, it's a mix of progressive-electronic, jazz/fusion, ambient, blues and avant-garde that makes it quite fragmented and disjointed, yet full of experimental potential that was never followed up on.
Chilled bluesy guitars may burn over whirring Moog and trilling synths throughout opener `Sphere', but `Grosse Nacht Musik' is pure floating electronic ambience full of mystery and wonder, and one of the best pieces on the LP. Quickening murky loops, drowsy guitar bends, lonely faraway flute, gentle sounds of nature and hypnotic electronics drift through `Oreknock', which might have easily come from the early Deuter albums, and the Vangelis-like synth experiment `Old Vienna' closes the first side.

Glistening Fender Rhodes electric piano and slow-burn funky guitars weave between splintering synth ripples on `R & B Degenerit!', percolating percussion carefully builds behind marimba as the Gong-like `Barong Rouge' slowly unwinds (unsurprising to find guest musician Mino Cinelu here, who actually played on that band's `Shamal' album, and in Zao and Weather Report), the maddening sequencer patterns of `Tunnel 4, Red Noise' cause instant mind-meltdown via bubbling freeform electronic nightmares, as if the groaning hostile mutant offspring of Pink Floyd's `On The Run' and mid Seventies Tangerine Dream are making violent love, `Bad Blue' is a jazzy piano interlude with a hint of darkness, and `Tricentennial Drag' is a fractured cut-up sound collage.

Fascinating, frustrating, unique and frequently gently precious, Patrick Vian's `Bruits Et Temps Analogues' is maybe not essential, but it still makes for an interesting and diverting little electronic curio that holds real magic in a few little spots, while also growing stronger with each listen. Electronic listeners, take a break from the big names of the genre and explore the little guys like this one, easier than ever before with the recent CD reissue!

Various Artists - 2009 - Aufbruche (Die Umsonst & Draussen-Festivals 1975-1978)

Various Artists 
2009 
Aufbruche 

 


(Die Umsonst & Draussen-Festivals 1975-1978)


101. Hammerfest - Lokomotive 9:11
102. Missus Beastly - Vloflutho 5:00
103. Jack Bone Group - Himalaya-Erdbeernuss 5:35
104. Embryo - Sidetrack 4:50
105. Atzen Wehmeyer - Arbeiterjugendblues 3:06
106. Hammerfest - That's What I Say 4:08
107. Buttergasse - Sonny 4:09
108. Johannislust Orchester - In the Beginning 3:57
109. Munju - Talk to Me 5:55
110. Embryo - The Bad Times Are Gone 6:16
111. Einhorn - Wer hat Angst vor Adalbert Wenstein 5:35
112. Hammerfest - Cross 5:49
113. Missus Beastly - Slow One 6:57



201. Real Ax Band - Nylon Recycled 5:42
202. Skyline - Tashiro 6:38
203. Sparifankal -  I mechd di gean amoi nackad seng 4:15
204. Molle - The Joker 4:31
205. Hammerfest - Jung Siegfried 5:49
206. ES - Today 5:41
207. Checkpoint Charlie - Ausschnitt aus der Geschichte von Herrn Müller 3:54
208. Julius Schittenhelm - Drei Orchideen 3:32
209. Munju - Patscha Menga Underground 8:49
210. Moira - Improvisationen 6:16
211. Funky Bone & The Gang - Higher 7:46
212. Embryo - Getalongwithasong 6:43



301. Real Ax Band - Move Your Ass in Time 5:47
302. Skyline - The Journey 8:02
303. Sadja - Daka Dhin 2:33
304. Einhorn - Einhorn Thema 4:59
305. ES - Fee Forever 1:34
306. Missus Beastly - For Flü 7:35
307. Release Music Orchestra - Sonntag 6:31
308. Ihr - Give Peace a Chance 1:30
309. Munju - I Feel so Blue Without You 5:02
310. Out of Focus - Sommer '58 6:03
311. Real Ax Band - Never Never Again 4:41
312. Good Food - Take It 6:55
313. Embryo - Wir sind alle politische Gefangene 5:02.



401. Aera - Herr Siebert & die sieben Siebe 4:38
402. Mathea Wlömsk - Bahama Mama 4:54
403. High Crack - Anina 4:49
404. Porta Westfalica Allstars - Airto 4:17
405. Das Dritte Ohr - Don't Use Your Spray 5:45
406. Hammerfest - Wilde Zeit 5:26
407. Molle - Bildertraum 4:42
408. Checkpoint Charlie - Smogalarm 5:40
409. Porta Westfalica Allstars - Keine Macht für Niemand 2:08
410. Spacebox - Tape Talk Hirn 5:12
411. Julius Schittenhelm - Er dreht sich hinein ins Hirn 4:24
412. Airbreak  - Crossover 4:09
413. Missus Beastly - Porta Erotica 4:45
414. Brühwarm - Tango 2:16
415. Brühwarm - Fummelrock 2:28

Open Air Concert - Vlotho-Winterberg +
Umsonst & Draussen: Vlotho 1976 +
Umsonst und Draussen - Vlotho '77 +
Umsonst und Draussen - Porta Westvlothica 1978



An impressive collection, no question about it. The box set includes the four original 'Umsonst & Draussen' releases in re-mastered form, accompanied by a booklet containing articles and photos (most of which are available on the official release site at http://www.umsonstunddraussen.info/). You can also download the albums individually from iTunes (the German store, at least).

Most of the music is in the kraut-funk style of mid-to-late 70's Embyro, which is no surprise since they were involved in setting up the festival in the first place. The first album contains perhaps the most krautrock-orientated pieces, but is unfortunately marred by the mastering being done from an LP release (the original tapes were missing). The sound improves considerably with the second album, and although the music is more focused on kraut-funk, it makes for a more consistent listen. The third and fourth releases are both double-albums, over 90 minutes each, and diversify the range of music somewhat. That's good in one way, but certainly makes them feel more like compilations that the second album.

Very few of the recordings are available elsewhere (Embryo's 'Wir sind alle politische Gefangene' was released on the re-master of 'Apo-Calypso' as 'Prisioneri Politici'), and most of the bands are pretty obscure. That said, a large proportion of the bands involve musicians from better-know bands; some 67 minutes of the 4 1/2 hours of music feature Missus Beastly and various off-shoots, for example. Six tracks (from four bands) involve Marlon Klein of Dissidenten, who also is responsible for the re-mastering of the albums. And that's quite aside from the various Embryo-related projects. Obscure some of these formations may be, but there's no lack of musicianship.

On the (slightly) negative side, the CDs don't exactly follow the original releases - there's no way the third and fourth albums would fit onto single CDs. So all the albums (except the first) are split across at least two CDs, which breaks whatever continuity the originals had. It's better than leaving tracks off, and at least you can import the tracks into iTunes (or whatever) and make your own playlists. Also, the promotional artwork that you might see around is slightly misleading: in my edition at least, the cardboard sleeves containing the CDs are generic and do not show the original album art. That's slightly disappointing in an otherwise well-made box set.

All in all, this is a set which is greater than the sum of its parts, or at least than the individual songs it includes. Perhaps one more for the fans (of Embryo and later Missus Beastly in particular) than the casual listener, it's nevertheless a great overview of the alternative festival scene in Germany at the time. Recommended.



Various Artists - 1973 - Mike Taylor Remembered

Various Artists 
1973 
Mike Taylor Remembered



01. Half Blue
02. Pendulum
03. I See You
04. Son of Red Blues / Brown Thursday
05. Song of Love
06. Folk Dance No. 2
07. Summer Sounds, Summer Sights
08. Land of Rhyme in Time
09. Timewind Jumping Off the Sun
10. Black and White Raga


Tony Fisher, Greg Bowen, Henry Lowther, Ian Carr - trumpets, flugelhorn
Chris Pyne, David Horler - trombones
Ray Premru - trombone
Barbara Thompson - flute, alto flute, saxophone
Ray Warleigh - flute, saxophone
Stan Sulzmann - flute, saxophone
Bob Efford - oboe, tenor sax, bassoon
Dave Gelly - clarinet, saxophone
Bunny Gould - clarinet, bassoon
Peter Lemer - piano, , synthesizer
Alan Branscombe - vibraphone
Chris Laurence, Ron Mathewson - bass
Jon Hiseman - drums, percussion
Neil Ardley - the director
Norma Winstone - the vocals




Michael Ronald Taylor (1 June 1938, Ealing, West London- 19 January 1969) was a British jazz composer, pianist and co-songwriter for the band Cream.

Mike Taylor was brought up by his grandparents in London and Kent, and joined the RAF for his national service. Having rehearsed and written extensively throughout the early 1960s, he recorded two albums for the Lansdowne series produced by Denis Preston: Pendulum (1966) with drummer Jon Hiseman, bassist Tony Reeves and saxophonist Dave Tomlin) and Trio (1967) with Hiseman and bassists Jack Bruce and Ron Rubin. They were issued on UK Columbia.

During his brief recording career, several of Taylor's pieces were played and recorded by his contemporaries. Three Taylor compositions were recorded by Cream, with lyrics by drummer Ginger Baker "Passing the Time", "Pressed Rat and Warthog" and "Those Were the Days", all of which appeared on the band's August 1968 album Wheels of Fire. Neil Ardley's New Jazz Orchestra's September 1968 recording Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe features one original Taylor composition "Ballad" and an arrangement by him of a Segovia piece "Study".

Mike Taylor drowned in the River Thames near Leigh-on-Sea, Essex in January 1969, following years of heavy drug use (principally hashish and LSD). He had been homeless for three years, and his death was almost entirely unremarked.

The short and tragic life of pianist / composer Mike Taylor, an eccentric genius fallen victim to mental illness / drug abuse, which proved self-destructive and led to his death at the age of 29, is surely worthy a script adaptation for a Martin Scorsese movie. Sometimes referred to as “the Syd Barrett of British Jazz”, Taylor had close ties with a relatively small group of musicians, like Graham Bond and the members of his Graham Bond Organization, which included Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker – soon to be founders of Cream. Many people will be surprised to learn that three songs co-written by Ginger and Mike appear on Cream’s “Wheels Of Fire” album (“Pressed Rat And Warthog”, “Those Were The Days” and “Passing The Time”). Another one of his superb songs – “Jumping Off The Sun” – was recorded by Colosseum and appears on several of their albums. Although known intimately by very few people at the time, the legend lives on and periodically the flame of interest is rekindled among the modern British Jazz fans, like in the case of reissue of his only two existing recordings: “Pendulum” and “Trio”. Even fewer people are aware of the spectacular tribute album recorded by Taylor’s musician friends three years after his death. Recorded under the musical direction of another British Jazz legendary figure, composer / arranger / bandleader Neil Ardley, who discovered Taylor’s genius immediately and scored some of his compositions for the New Jazz Orchestra when Taylor was still alive. Unfortunately the concert, which was to feature NJO and Mike’s trio never materialized, since Taylor (already very ill at the time) simply missed the gig. Nevertheless Ardley continued to use Taylor’s music as part of the regular NJO repertoire and suggested to Denis Preston, owner of the legendary Lansdowne Studios in London, where most of the pivotal modern British Jazz was recorded, to produce a tribute album to Mike Taylor’s musical genius. Preston, who recorded the two Taylor albums, needed no persuasion and funded the complex and costly project with no hesitation, considering it a most appropriate gesture. Ardley assembled a group of 20 musicians to record this project, sharing the scoring of the music for a large ensemble with others, who were close to Taylor and new him well, like Howard Riley, Barbara Thompson and Dave Gelly. One of the tracks is based on a previously unreleased Taylor quartet recording, with the ensemble overdubbed on top of the original recording, which makes Taylor’s participation in this project almost “in person” as well as “in spirit”. The list of the participating musicians reads like the who’s who of modern British Jazz and includes among others: Ian Carr and Henry Lowther on trumpet, Chris Pyne and David Horler on trombone, Ray Warleigh and Stan Sulzmann on saxophone, Peter Lemer and Alan Branscombe on piano, Chris Lawrence and Ron Mathewson on bass, Jon Hiseman on drums and of course the divine Norma Winstone on vocals. I can’t think of a more appropriate tribute than this one, full of love, dedication and music genius by all the people involved. Considering the fact that this album combines the genius of Taylor’s Jazz composition with the genius of Ardley’s Jazz scoring / arranging, we get (in mathematical terms) a genius squared result – a rare event indeed. Recommending this album would be somewhat similar to recommending someone to read some Joyce or see a van Gogh – completely superfluous. I’m sure you get the drift by now!

The Keyboard Circle - 1976 - 1976

The Keyboard Circle 
1976 
1976

 

01 Protuberans
02 Blue Bossa
03 Zomaar in Vieren
04 Six Seven Eight
05 Absorbed Love
06 For Eliane
07 Basic Train
08 Soundcircle / All About Us
09 Tamotua
10 The Kumquat kids

- Jan Huydts (Third Eye) - Fender Thodes Electric Piano, Hohner String Ensemble, Arp Odyssey Synthesiser
- Rob Franken - Fender Rhodes Electric Piano, Hohner Clavinet, Solina String Ensemble, ARP Odyssey Synthesiser
- Henk Zomer - Ludwig Drums


I got clued to this by my buddy Ken. This is an offshoot of the Dutch jazz/rock group Scope. Scope released two albums of instrumental progressive fusion that were released on Atlantic Records in Germany only. They have never been reissued on CD. The Keyboard Circle was a short lived trio that consisted of ex-Scope members Rob Franken (Fender Rhodes and multi keyboards) and Henk Zomer (drums) as well as Jan Huydts (Fender Rhodes and multi keyboards). This is VPRO recordings from February 8, 1976 that have never been heard before. Heard before? No one outside of the group's hometown knew that the band existed until now. This is very good classic-era, kosmigroov. jazz/rock.

In 1976, the pianists Rob Franken en Jan Huydts (Third Eye)  both lived in Soest (Netherlands). They hung out together a lot, and shared their love for newly developed key instruments. Both of them were Fender Rhodes electric piano pioneers. Rob Franken's piano virtuosity is to be recognized on as many as four hundred records. In 1976, he had his own trio and performed with the Dutch funk fusion formation ‘Scope’ from the city of Zwolle. In this band, he met with drummer Henk Zomer, whom he was very impressed with.

At the end of 1975, Rob Franken came to the idea to start a new formation based on the combination of different consonance colors by combining Fender pianos with synthesizers, string cabinets and other electronic key instruments. Jan Huydts, who was experienced in making experimental music through his formations ‘Basic Train’ and ‘Third Eye’, thought this was a good idea. They decided to arrange their key instruments in a circle during their performances and so the ‘The Keyboard Circle’ was born.

The two musicians composed their own repertoire out of their own compositions and music covers. For example, on this record we find the Scope song ‘Tamotua’, Kenny Dorham’s ‘Blue Bossa’ and Eddie Henderson’s ‘The Kumquat Kids’. They decided to play the bass lines themselves, one by one, on a bass synth, while the other was playing his solo. The drums of Henk Zomer, clearly inspired by Jack DeJohnette and Tony Williams, became the driving force.

Soon after a few rehearsals the first performances took place. One of these first performances is to be found on this CD, recorded on February 8, 1976 in youth centre ‘De Trucker’ in Pijnacker, near The Hague. Han Reiziger, producer for VPRO radio had a craze for special jazz music and was not afraid to show his admiration for Rob Franken's work. He is the instigator of this special recording, that for reasons that aren't clear were never broadcasted. Whilst researching for a radio documentary the maker ran up against these tapes, which everyone had forgotten existed.

To begin with, the soundscape that reveals itself to you when listening to ‘The Keyboard Circle’ is a unique product of its time. Grounded in the mid seventies it’s no less than the works of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea of those days. Exuberant swing and virtuous solos will find their way through your core. At the same time, the music is subdued in a typically Dutch manner. Most importantly, this music has its own sound, which can't compare to anything you’ve ever heard before.

Unfortunately, ‘The Keyboard Circle’ died at a young age. While Rob Franken was Toots Thielemans regular pianist, he had multiple radio and television performances, taught at the conservatory and above all, he was one of the most frequently programmed Dutch musicians during the seventies. Because of the immense amount of gigs Rob Franken was offered, performances were frequently cancelled at short notice. For this reason, Jan Huydts decided to quit after a while. This became irreversible by the sudden death of Rob Franken in 1983. Unfortunately, no record was ever released. Now this time has come. By listening to the CD you finally have the chance to get to know ‘The Keyboard Circle’. This rectification in the history of Dutch jazz music was a necessary one. And so: the circle is round.

Sunbirds - 1973 - Zagara

Sunbirds 
1973 
Zagara
 


01.My Dear Groovin
02.I Don't Need
03.African Sun
04.Fire Dance
05.Homecoming
06.Ocean Song
07.Stillpointing
08.Zagara


-Ferdinand Povel/ fl
-Leczek Zadlo/ fl
-Lucas Costa/ gtr
-Rafael Weber/ gtr
-Fritz Pauer/ p
-Jimmy Woode/ dbl b
-Ron Carter/ dbl.b
-Norman Tolbert/ perc,
-Klaus Weiss/ dr


Sunbirds were a band project formed in 1971 by German drummer Klaus Weiss. (17/02/1942-10/12/2008) Weiss had already twelve years of career as a jazz drummer behind him in 1971 and was appreciated by US jazz men touring in Europe. He had played among others with Bud Powell, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Drew and Don Byas. From 1962 to 1965 he had worked with Klaus Doldinger and in 1966 Weiss won the International Jazz Competition in Vienna.
In 1971 he formed the multinational Klaus Weiss Quartet featuring American bassist Jimmy Woode, Dutch saxophonist Ferdinand Povel and Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer, The same musicians joined by Philip Catherine on guitar and Juan Romero on percussion recorded in august of 1971 the first self titled Sunbirds record. The record presented an interesting form of early jazz rock with an extensive use of electronic keyboards. One year later in august of 1972 the Sunbirds released their second record, Zagara, again the Klaus Weiss Quartet joined this time by Ron Carter on double bass, Leczek Zadlo on flute, Lucas Costa and Rafael Weber on guitar and Norman Tolbert on percussion. This record presented an orientation towards Latin Fusion.


Sunbirds - 1971 - Sunbirds

Sunbirds
1971
Sunbirds


01. Kwaeli
02. Sunrise
03. Spanish Sun
04. Sunshine
05. Sunbirds
06. Blues For D.S.

CD reissue bonus tracks:
07. Dreams
08. Fire Dance

Bass – Jimmy Woode
Drums – Klaus Weiss
Electric Piano [Hohner Electra] – Fritz Pauer
Flute, Flute [Alto] – Ferdinand Povel
Guitar – Philip Catherine
Percussion – Juan Romero

Recorded 24 August 71 at Union Studios München, Germany



The fusion group Sunbirds was founded by the jazz musicians Klaus Weiss (drums) and Fritz Pauer (keyboards) in Munich in 1971, when the two of them had already made a name for themselves. They got Ferdinand Povel on flute, Jimmy Woode on bass and the world-famous guitarist Philip Catherine to join them. The band name Sunbirds was Fritz Pauer's idea, as well as the songs in E major and E minor, carrying titles including the word "sun". E is the sound representing the sun in esotericism. Due to their good connections, they could soon sign a contract with the then newly-founded BASF label. The LP was released in that same year of 1971, simply under the name of "Sunbirds" (BASF 2021110-2). The two as yet unreleased bonus tracks are from the same master tapes as the LP/CD tracks and were recorded at the same time. The second Sunbirds LP, "Zagara" is to follow on CD at a later point

Man this has been treat to listen to of late. I never heard of these guys before but they came highly recommended from Greg Walker so I took the chance, and i'm SO glad it did. Based out of Germany in the early seventies this Jazz / Rock / Fusion band released two albums,this being the debut. Love the album cover as well. While these guys were based out of Munich, Germany it should be noted that this was a multi-national band with a Dutch flautist, American bassist and the guitarist from Belgium. It should also be noted that these guys were all seasoned players, all having played in important bands or projects before this. Most were close to 30 years of age when this album was recorded while the American bassist Jimmy Woode was over 40 years of age. Jimmy by the way played piano and trombone before switching to bass and played in Duke Ellington's big band from 1955- 1959. He also played with Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespi and Charlie Parker amongst others. In the book "The Crack In The Cosmic Egg" they had this to say about the SUNBIRDS : "On their debut "Sunbirds" they made a dreamy, yet powerful fusion with an abundance of solos, extensively featuring Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine, and smooth jazz keys from Fritz Pauer, feeling like a spacey EMBRYO cum Miles Davis. It's one of the great timeless fusion albums of the era that really gets the balance right, even when some of the tunes are so catchy that they linger in the mind long after".
"Kwaeli" has a relaxed beat with bass and flute helping out. Electric piano comes in as the tempo keeps picking up and slowing down. So good ! "Sunrise" sounds amzing as the flute plays over top. Crisp drumming as the organ comes and goes. "Spanish Sun" is mellow with flute and bass. It starts to pick up before 2 minutes as a beat comes in then guitar. Great sound ! The guitar stands out before 3 1/2 minutes then the electric piano comes to the fore. It's building.It settles back before 10 minutes to end it.

"Sunshine" is uptempo as the flute plays over top. Nice bass too. The organ replaces the flute and rips it up. The flute is back before 3 minutes. The guitar leads for a while then the flute is back to end it. "Sunbrids" has some atmosphere to start. A relaxing soundscape takes over around 2 minutes. The guitar leads after 3 1/2 minutes then it's the electric piano's turn. Drums dominate after 8 1/2 minutes. "Blues For DS" is groovy baby ! The flute plays over top as the bass,drums and guitar lead the way. Distorted keys before 2 minutes then the flute returns followed by electric piano.

You'll notice the word "sun" in three of the five song titles as well as in the band's name. Well it's because most of the songs they were creating were in E-minor or E-major and E is the so-called sun note in esotericism. Man I like this album, especially the electric piano. Amazing stuff !

Friedrich Gulda & Klaus Weiss - 1970 - It's All One

Friedrich Gulda & Klaus Weiss 
1970
It's All One
 


01. Ouverture 4:08
02. Bossanova 4:33
03. Aria 4:38
04. Finale 3:47
05. Meditation III 12:55
06. Blues Fantasy 10:29


Friedrich Gulda: piano, electric piano
Klaus Weiss: drums



It is said that you can judge the quality of a man by the company he keeps and, on that basis alone, drummer Klaus Weiss can make valid claim to pre-eminence in his particular field of endeavour. Because Klaus Weiss has kept some pretty distinguished musical company in the course of a career which has spanned four decades.

His musical associates have included Benny Bailey, Cecil Bridgewater, Don Byas, Philip Catherine, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Jerry Dodgion, Klaus Doldinger, Kenny Drew, Booker Ervin, Wilton Gaynair, Herb Geller, Dusko Goykovic, Johnny Griffin, Friedrich Gulda, Slide Hampton, Billy Harper, Hampton Hawes, Clifford Jordan, Herbie Mann, Howard McGhee, Don Menza, Tete Montoliu, George Mraz, Sal Nistico, Walter Norris, Horace Parlan, Bud Powell, Jerome Richardson, Tony Scott, René Thomas, Mal Waldron, Leo Wright and Attila Zoller.

In the post-war years, when American jazz musicians began touring Europe in increasing numbers and playing with local rhythm sections, they found their biggest problem was to find drummers who had a good sense of time and were both sensitive and supportive.

When Klaus Weiss began his professional career in 1958, good drummers in Europe were still very few and far between. Weiss, however, found favour with visiting jazz stars because, as Johnny Griffin observed, "he is one of the few European drummers with that distinctive American feeling."

Born in Gevelsberg, Westphalia, on February 17, 1942, Klaus Weiss taught himself to play drums and began his professional career at the age of 16 as a member of the Jazzopators, a group which accompanied American trumpeter Nelson Williams and also singer Inez Cavanaugh.

From 1962 to 1965 he worked with Klaus Doldinger and during this time he had a spell in Paris, where he worked in the famous Blue Note club with Bud Powell, Johnny Griffin and Kenny Drew.

In 1965 he formed a trio which backed American saxophonists Don Byas and Leo Wright and Jamaican Wilton Gaynair. That same year Weiss toured with a group that included Sal Nistico and Dusko Goykovic and also played some dates with Don Menza.

The following year Weiss's trio, now with pianist Rob Franken and bassist Rob Langereis, toured with Booker Ervin. That same year Weiss won the International Jazz Competition in Vienna.

After a spell with the Erwin Lehn Big Band (1967 - 68), Klaus Weiss moved to Munich, joined the Bayerischer Rundfunk Jazz Ensemble led by Joe Haider and appeared many times at Munich's celebrated Domicile club. In the late sixties and early seventies, he became increasingly active as a studio musician. In 1971 he worked with a multi-national quartet which featured American bassist Jimmy Woode, Dutch saxophonist Ferdinand Povel and Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer, and in the autumn of that year toured with an all-star orchestra which included Slide Hampton, Don Menza, Herb Geller, Fritz Pauer, Philip Catherine and Chuck Findley.

This ensemble recorded an album, I Just Want To Celebrate, at the Domicile jazz club in Munich for the MPS label in November 1971 and, in his liner note, Friedrich Gulda wrote: "The formula is: Get a good dozen of the best musicians from both sides of the Atlantic, get some top arrangers to write the charts, rehearse (not too little, not too much), put the aggregation on the bandstand in a sympathetic club … and then set the whole affair afire with your drumming. Simple, uh? "Well, it isn't. Because such a venture requires of its leader more than purely musical capabilities: it involves nerve-wrecking preparations. Like phone calls to musicians who never seem to be at home or just moved to another apartment; bribing the customs officer into letting you have the arrangements before the job, not after…convincing the club owner that although soft lights may be good for business, they are bad for reading music…etc.,etc. "Very few people have the determination and the nerves to go through all this and much more….Klaus Weiss has."

Those observations say a lot about the other attributes of Klaus Weiss. He is an industrious and painstaking organizer who has always recognized that while spontaneity is a crucial element in jazz performance, also indispensable is the creation of an atmosphere in which the musicians can perform free of tension and stress, an atmopshere in which mutual inspiration and stimulus can flourish. And that takes, as Gulda noted, a lot of perseverance, determination and dedication.

In the first half of the 1970s, Klaus Weiss worked with the Horst Jankowski Sextet, the trio of former Mingus saxophonist Bobby Jones and the Eugen Cicero Trio. From 1975 to 1977 he toured with Mal Waldron and with the Dusko Goykovic Big Band and then, between 1978 and 1983, Weiss led a quintet which featured various guest soloists, including Sal Nistico, Roman Schwaller, Clifford Jordan and Andy Scherrer. He also played with Catalan pianist Tete Montoliu, with Eddie "Lockjaw Davis" and with the WDR and NDR big bands.

In the 1980s toured with Clifford Jordan and Horace Parlan, played with multi-instrumentalist Jerome Richardson and toured with his new quintet. In 1984 he recorded a big band album, "Lightnin' " which was nominated for the Süd West Funk Jazz Prize.

In 1991 Klaus Weiss formed a new trio with pianist Rob van Bavel and bassist Thomas Stabenow and also put together the Saxophone Connection group (with Roman Schwaller, Andy Scherrer, Dado Moroni and Thomas Stabenow) which recorded a fine album for L&R Records (Bellaphon).

In a highly varied career, Klaus Weiss has made 17 albums under his own name, with formations ranging from trio, quartet, quintet and sextet to full orchestra, and has appeared on numerous other albums as a sideman.

Weiss's musical philosophy is that good jazz music - which means jazz played by consummate professionals who have a powerful rapport with one another and the same sense of musical direction - is a highly durable music. He says: "Count Basie's music will still be up to date 50 years from now."

Perhaps one of the most perceptive comments about Klaus Weiss's drumming comes from Belgium's Jean Warland, one-time bassist with the celebrated Clarke-Boland Big Band whose drummer was, of course, the legendary Kenny Clarke.

In the liner note to Weiss's 1988 album, A Taste Of Jazz, (which, for me, along with the 1991 L. .A. Calling, is one of the most impressive of a highly attractive collection), Warland said of Klaus: "Every time I have the possibility of playing with him, it feels as if we were simply continuing a conversation we had left off a few weeks or months ago…As a bassist, I always enjoy working with him… because his drumming relieves you of all worries and cares - the rhythm is simply there. There are no unnecessary fills, only a well-balanced drum and cymbal sound which expresses Klaus Weiss's admiration of Kenny Clarke. In other words, Klaus Weiss is a drummer in the great jazz tradition."

And, reviewing L. A. Calling in the American magazine Cadence, Dave McElfresh wrote that Klaus Weiss "exhibits a power and personality more exuberant than most of his peers on the instrument."

It is significant that Klaus himself defines his approach to drumming as directly derived from some of the great American drummers which he began listening to in the early 1950s. Says Klaus: "For me, the essence of great jazz drumming was epitomized by those giants, like Big Sid Catlett, Klook, Blakey, Buddy and Philly Joe. These have all been listening drummers, each with his own personality, but having in common a great ability to swing, to generate excitement, and to stimulate the soloists. And besides their sound and way of playing, I got really interested in the American drum rudiments because, as I discovered at the time, all great American drummers know and use those essential rudiments - but few of the European drummers in the fifties seemed to have assimilated these elements - at least, to my ears."

There speaks Klaus Weiss, a most accomplished musician who happens to be a drummer - and who is still one of the most swinging and sympathetic drummers in Europe.


A very complete album composed bu Gulda in the late 70's, musically complete in all terms, in composition, arrangements and interpretation, a must have for all the fans of Friedrich Gulda, a funny and emotionally album that you can hear from beginning to end everytime without boring, a very fine recording quality very well balanced with great soundstage, do yourself a favor dont miss this piece of art.

Pauline Oliveros - 2012 - Reverberations

Pauline Oliveros 
2012
Reverberations 
Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970 (12CD)
 


Pauline Oliveros Home Electronic Music Studio 1961
101. Time Perspectives 19:38

San Francisco Tape Music Center 1964-1966
201. Mnemonics I 15:09
202. Mnemonics II 9:55
203. Mnemonics III 17:34

301. Mnemonics IV 18:46
302. Mnemonics V 13:54

University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio 1966
401. II of IV 16:16
402. III of IV 9:23
403. IV of IV 16:39
404. V of IV 14:39
405. III 16:08

501. Team & Desecrations Improvisation 22:58
502. The Day I Disconnected the Erase Head and Forgot to Reconnect It 32:36
503. Jar Piece 15:52

601. Another Big Mother 31:40
602. Fed Back 1 28:10
603. Fed Back 2 3:56

701. 5000 Miles 32:50
702. Angel Fix 32:37

801. Bottoms Up 1 12:50
802. Nite 16:28
803. Ringing the Mods 1 Heads 9:35
804. Ringing the Mods 2 Tails 9:35
805. Three Pieces I 5:22
806. Three Pieces II 3:21
807. Three Pieces III 4:03

Mills Tape Music Center 1966-1967
901. Big Slow Bog 32:39
902. Boone Bog 32:34

1001. Bog Bog 33:45
1002. Mind Bog 33:38

1101. Mewsack 32:30
1102. 50-50 1 Heads 19:31
1103. 50=50 2 Tails 19:31

University of California San Diego Electronic Music Studio 1967-1970
1201. A Little Noise in the System 30:25
1202. Red Horse Headache 21:26


CDs packaged in six double-CD jewel-cases with booklets and tray-cards. The first disc contains a 48-page booklet with track listing, notes, tape delay diagrams, and pictures of tape reel boxes from the University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio. The other discs have 4-page booklets.
Housed in a box with fully printed lid and base.

Released to coincide with Pauline Oliveros' 80th birthday.

1-1, 2-3, 4-4 previously released on Pauline Oliveros - Four Electronic Pieces 1959-1966
4-1 previously released on Various - Electro Acoustic Music V
5-3 previously released on Pauline Oliveros / John Rea / István Anhalt - Electronic Essays
12-1 previously released on Various - An Anthology Of Noise & Electronic Music / First A-Chronology 1921-2001



This has got to be one of the most improbable, altruistic, and quixotic box sets ever produced, as it compiles 12 albums worth of almost entirely unreleased material from Oliveros' fertile early years.  That, of course, means: 1.) none of her early masterpieces like "Bye Bye Butterfly" are here, and 2.) nothing at all is included from the wildly different (and superior) work that she has done over the last four decades.  Those caveats, coupled with the inarguable fact that no artist on earth has a dozen killer albums worth of vault material lying around, makes this a pretty undesirable prospect for the merely curious or for anyone looking for a definitive retrospective.  For serious fans of early electronic music, however, this is an absolute goldmine.

The length and breadth of Pauline Oliveros' career is pretty astonishing by any standard, as she has essentially lived two equally visionary, yet totally disparate, creative lives.  Superficially, the pieces collected here have zero relation to my previous conception of Pauline as an artist.  In fact, it is difficult to imagine her even listening to music like this, let alone creating it (and so much of it besides).  The reason for that is the sheer artificiality inherent in creating sounds solely from oscillators, wave generators, and modular synthesizers.  Oliveros' work over the last several decades seems aggressively antithetical to anything resembling inhuman buzzes and bleeps, instead employing an almost entirely organic palette centered around her iconic accordion and an array of collaborators.  On a deeper level, however, it all makes sense: she just found a different way to explore her lifelong fascination with acoustics, the fluidity of time, and the way masses of frequencies interact with each other.  Her means have a consistent thread as well, as her technological creativity is now employed to find ways to make very human and "real" sounds seem hyper-real.

The twelve discs of Reverberations are arranged in chronological order with the location of their origin included as well, which makes following Pauline's trajectory both enticing and easy.  The earliest piece is 1961's "Time Perspectives," a tape-based work that was recorded in Oliveros' home utilizing the acoustic properties of her bathtub.  It is a bit of an anomaly, as it is the set's sole musique concrète piece, mostly derived from water noises and other non-musical sounds.

The next two discs cover 1964-1966, the period in which Pauline, Terry Riley, and others, armed with WWII surplus equipment, founded the San Francisco Tape Music Center.  This period is notable for several reasons.  For one, Pauline recorded one of her greatest pieces during this time, the aforementioned "Bye Bye Butterfly" (not included, sadly).  Secondly, it coincided with her plunge into the world of electronically generated beeps, buzzes, whines, and hums (the "Mnemonics" series), an artistic path that she followed for the duration of this compilation's scope.  Finally, it should be noted that Oliveros had an unusual approach to tape music, eschewing cutting-and-splicing of her peers for an obsession with tape-based delay and an insistence upon pieces that could be replicated live and in real-time.

Later in 1966, Pauline headed to the University of Toronto's Electronic Music Studio, which was much better equipped.  Even though she was there less than a year, this was a hugely productive period for her and comprises five entire discs of the set.  This is where things start to get interesting, both from a musical perspective and a theoretical one.  Musically, the various electronic hums and whines that characterized her Tape Center work are used for far more ambitious, vibrant, and complexly textured compositions–this is where Pauline's work becomes truly distinctive.  The actual sounds being generated are not noticeably different than those generated in the far more modest San Francisco studio, but the complexity and effectiveness of their interactions is on an entirely different level.

Correspondingly, a few of her more famous works ("Big Mother is Watching You" and "I of IV") originated from this period.  While neither is included, many variations and concurrent works are here, so their absence is not terribly glaring.  Also, some of the less famous pieces are quite visceral and weirdly contemporary-sounding: she could probably still tear the roof off of a noise show with a piece like "The Day I Disconnected the Erase Head and Forgot to Reconnect It."

I was most fascinated, however, by the theory behind Pauline's work at this time, a theory which caused UTEMS' director to accuse her of dabbling in the black arts:  Oliveros set all of the studio's twelve square-wave generators to frequencies outside the range of human hearing, relying on the clashing frequencies to create their own audible sounds (this is called "the heterodyne technique").  She also discovered that the pressure waves caused by unheard high frequency sounds can still be felt and that some frequencies created distortion by interacting with the bias frequency of her tape machines, all of which I found fascinating.

Near the end of 1966, Pauline became the director of the relocated Tape Center at Mills College.  This period takes up 2½ discs and yielded her classic "Alien Bog."  Again, that is not included here, but several other "Bog" variations are and they are pretty weird and divergent compared to what came before them.  In a perverse way, they are the first harbinger of Oliveros' imminent and dramatic change in direction–while they certainly sound as artificial and electronic as ever, they were a conscious attempt to replicate the omnipresent insectoid hum that emerged from the Texas wetlands of her youth.  Her Texan childhood manifests itself in another (more unexpected) way as well, as the liner notes divulge that her love of tape delay is rooted in the echo and delay used in Western Swing and jukebox hits like Les Paul & Mary Ford's "How High the Moon."

Pauline's "Bog-period" bout with mutant naturalism was short-lived, however, as the final two discs plunge into remarkably caustic noise.  This is especially surprising given that they coincide with her acceptance of a teaching position in the music department of UC San Diego.  While the obligations of teaching certainly slowed her creative output (and brought this phase of her career to an end), Pauline's time at UCSD ultimately turned out to be very significant and fruitful philosophically: she befriended physicist Lester Ingber and became extremely interested in how the mind focuses on sound, shaping decades of her work to come.  Also, in a more general way, she simply became increasingly disinterested in the isolated, hermetic world of her studio and more concerned with exploring the potential of both other people and the natural world.

Taken as a solely musical endeavor, Reverberations is a pretty exhausting set with many similar-sounding and very long pieces, but there are certainly some great ones among them (and they are practically all appearing for the first time).  More importantly, however, this set was clearly a labor of love on Important's part and it shows in every way.  I was especially impressed by the liner notes, which were genuinely colorful, understandable, and informative.  Bluntly speaking, there is not a lot of overt personality or variation in how oscillators, wave generators, and early synthesizers sound (regardless of who is playing them), so learning about why and how a piece came into existence enhances the listening experience immeasurably and adds several new layers to appreciate.  Also, I learned some neat Oliveros trivia that made me even more predisposed to enjoy her work, like the fact that she used to play shows with oscillators mischievously and deliberately set to the resonant frequency of the venue, often resulting in a mass exodus.   As a result, Reverbations feels far more like an engaging history of a restless and groundbreaking artist than a mere compilation.  I still very much prefer Pauline's later work, but having a deeper understanding of the convoluted path she took to get there makes me appreciate it even more.

I rate this not based on how much I actually like it, but on its importance in the history of electronic music. There's a lot of synthesis experimentation going on here, but to remember this was composed/produced in the 1960s is really pretty mind-blowing. You could throw it in the mix with a vast majority of noise or extreme electronic music made in 2015 and tell no difference. The pioneering sounds of those days are still the pioneering sounds of today. Reverberations is an exploration of the outer reaches of what we consider music, where the line is drawn between sounds and noise (as the average person conceives of noise) and what would be more widely considered as music (repetition, recognizable melodic phrases, etc). Its massive length makes the collection more or less impossible to consume as an album, per se - and even most of the songs themselves, by length, are tests of endurance - but as something to visit now and again, something with which to remember the history of this music, Reverberations, in that way, is essential.



.

Pauline Oliveros - 2008 - Four Electronic Pieces 1959-1966

Pauline Oliveros 
2008 
Four Electronic Pieces 1959-1966




01. Mnemonics III 17:28
02. V of IV 14:43
03. Time Perspectives 19:29
04. Once Again / Buchla Piece 19:19


As a member of the postwar American avant-garde, Pauline Oliveros worked alongside the likes of America's most revered early minimalists—Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Morton Subotnik. She was an accordionist and an academic, and as a result her unorthodox musical mixtures haven't been reissued as steadily as her contemporaries. But over the decades—as audiences for electronic music have grown and the influence of her contemporaries has been made more explicit—interest in Oliveros has become a bit of a cultish hobby among pioneer hunters.

Four Electronic Pieces: 1959 – 1969, a new collection by the Belgian label Sub Rosa, presents some of Oliveros' earliest works. Oliveros was one of the original members of the San Francisco Tape Music Center, which in the early to mid-60s served as a loose meeting point for early American electronic experimentation. The earliest piece, 1959's "Time Perspectives," manipulates the various speeds of a basic tape recorder from a Sears Roebuck store, and uses cardboard tubes for filters, a bathtub for reverb, and soup ladles and kitchen knives for effects. "Time Perspectives" is the most engaging piece here because it's the crudest and most surprising. Oliveros was just 27 at the time, and this was—and still is—extreme music, closer to Florian Hecker or Merzbow than the more refined compositions of her more classically inclined mentors. There's an overarching sense of joy in discovering the harsh sounds she can pull out of those bathtubs, ladles and knives to make this mess of frequencies.

The remaining three pieces—1965's "Mnemonics III" and 1966's "V of IV" and "Once Again/Buchla piece"—all belong to larger series. By this time, Oliveros was using oscillators and keyboards to manipulate tape, and the results sound more like studious cycles than fresh explorations. Oliveros herself abandoned this approach to electronic music as she got older and returned to her childhood love of the accordion as the central focus of her music. Future work would be more spiritually inclined and meditative, and because of the accordion, exponentially more distinct.

Sub Rosa can be, at times, a label of prescient extremes. With this collection, they present a portrait of Oliveros at her most rigorous and academic. While Four Electronic Pieces 1959-1969 adds to our understanding of her development, this collection is ultimately a master class for the musique concrète fan and not a gateway for anyone looking to find out what Oliveros is all about. Long stretches are unlistenable to all but the most ardent ear. For that, you might be better served by two recent reissues from Important Records—Accordion & Voice or The Wanderer. Four Electronic Pieces is a portrait of an artist who (at least early on) pioneered through extreme impulse. In other words, don't start here.

Pauline Oliveros - 1984 - The Wanderer

Pauline Oliveros
1984
The Wanderer



01. Duo For Accordion & Bandoneon
  Accordion – Pauline Oliveros
  Bandoneon – David Tudor
02. The Wanderer
  Accordion, Soloist – Pauline Oliveros
  Directed By – Sam Falcetti
  Performer – The Springfield Accordion Orchestra
03. Horse Sings From Cloud
  Accordion – Julia Haines
  Bandoneon – Pauline Oliveros
  Concertina – Linda Montano
  Harmonium – Heloise Gold

The Wanderer and Horse Sings From Cloud were recorded live during "Lovely Music Live" at the Marymount Manhattan Theatre, January 27, 1983.
Re-edition on CD with a bonus track (Duo For Accordion & Bandoneon).


"The Wanderer" features three live performances. the first consists of blurts of accordion with some spartan electronics. it has sort of a cold feel the reminds me of a lot of the "classic" electro-accoustic modern composition stuff. the second track features an accordion orchestra and percussion that is quite powerful and frenetic, using minimal melodic phrases and repetition in a way very similar to steve reich. finally, the last track is a tape piece using accordion and vox. this is a pretty beautiful droney piece to round out the album. all in all a solid effort, and definitely worth checking out if you have interest in accordion, tape music, or Oliveros....

Pauline Oliveros - 1982 - Accordion & Voice

Pauline Oliveros
1982
Accordion & Voice




01. Horse Sings From Cloud 22:11 
02. Rattlesnake Mountain 21:58






Pauline Oliveros, composer, performer and humanitarian is an important pioneer in American Music. Acclaimed internationally, for four decades she has explored sound -- forging new ground for herself and others.

Through improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation she has created a body of work with such breadth of vision that it profoundly effects those who experience it and eludes many who try to write about it. "On some level, music, sound consciousness and religion are all one, and she would seem to be very close to that level," stated John Rockwell. Oliveros has been honored with awards, grants and concerts internationally. Whether performing at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in an underground cavern or in the studios of a West German radio station, Oliveros' commitment to interaction with the moment is unchanged. She can make the sound of a sweeping siren into another instrument of the ensemble.

Through Deep Listening Pieces and earlier Sonic Meditations, Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating all environmental sounds into musical performance. To make a pleasurable experience of this requires focused concentration, skilled musicianship and strong improvisational skills, which are the hallmarks of Oliveros' form. In performance, Oliveros uses an accordion which has been re-tuned in two different systems of her just intonation in addition to electronics to alter the sound of the accordion and to explore the individual characteristics of each room.

Pauline Oliveros has built a loyal following through her concerts, recordings, publications and musical compositions that she has written for soloists and ensembles in music, dance, theater and inter-arts companies. She has also provided leadership within the music community from her early years as the first director of the San Francisco Tape Music Center  (now known as the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College ), director of the Center for Music Experiment during her 14 year tenure as professor of music at the University of California at San Diego to acting in an advisory capacity for organizations such as The National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts and many private foundations. She now serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College. Oliveros has been vocal about representing the needs of individual artists, about the need for diversity and experimentation in the arts, and promoting cooperation and good will among people.


Accordion & Voice is one of Pauline Oliveros' first recordings, and in it she utilizes the accordion as an instrument of meditation, in the sense that every performance is a meditation. On the recording the accordion is tuned in just intonation. This allows for microtonal playing, giving the first piece a haunting sound every time you hear a small change and giving the second very interesting tones every time she had a new impulse.

The first piece, "Horse Sings from Cloud," starts off with a single droning tone that is almost piercing at first, but every time she comes back after the accordion breathes, she adds to it. After the first few minutes the piece starts to open up and you can feel the accordion "breathe" just as Oliveros does, the more she gets into it. Eventually she introduces voice which only adds to the pulsing drones already occurring, and it becomes nearly dream-like, which certainly fits the title of the piece that apparently came to her in a dream: "A horse was supposed to sing from the clouds. I was wondering how the horse would get there, when some birds flew down with a blanket in their beaks and took the horse to the clouds to sing."

The second piece, "Rattlesnake Mountain" is more melodic in the sense that it is not just a drone. There is still the typical drone of an accordion, but much more variation in Oliveros' playing. She has said that it is an expression of the mountain, and her playing is how she feels when she sees it which is expressed in her playing. She would visualize the mountain as she played, the wind blowing through the trees and the shape of the mountain.

As an album, and a staple in drone and minimalist music, Accordion & Voice stands out as an album that isn't just listened to once, but returned to repeatedly to discover something new each time. It's amazing to recognize what Oliveros has crafted with something as simple as an accordion and her own voice.

New Jazz Orchestra - 1969 - Le Dejeuner Sur L'herbe

New Jazz Orchestra
1969 
Le Dejeuner Sur L'herbe



01. Le déjeuner sur l'herbe
02. Naïma
03. Angle
04. Ballad
05. Dusk Fire
06. Nardis
07. Study
08. Rebirth

Neil Ardley: director
Jack Bruce: bass
Jon Hiseman: drums
Dave Gelly: Tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Jim Philip: Tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet
Dick Heckstall-Smith: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Barbara Thompson: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Derek Wadswort: trombone
John Mumford: trombone
Michael Gibbs: trombone
Tony Russell: trombone
Henry Lowther: trumpet
Harry Beckett: trumpet
Derek Watkins: trumpet
Ian Carr: trumpet, flugelhorn
George Smith: tuba
Frank Ricottiv: ibraphone, marimba


This is the second and also the last formal album by the seminal British Jazz Orchestra called New Jazz Orchestra or NJO for short. Directed by the legendary composer / arranger / bandleader Neil Ardley the NJO was probably the most important singular British Jazz ensemble, which shaped the way British and European Jazz developed in the late 1960s.

Despite the fact that the number of people, who are familiar with this epic recording, will hardly fill up an average British pub, it is still one of the best and more importantly revolutionary Jazz albums of all times, certainly as far as British Jazz is concerned. The fact that the album, which was released on LP in 1969 and almost immediately after disappeared from the shelves, had to wait for 45 years for its debut CD reissue confirms its anonymity and obscurity. And yet for the handful of British Jazz enthusiasts it always was the magnum opus of the British Jazz resurgence, when the music emerged for the first time as a truly new Art form, related to but fully independent from the American Jazz tradition.

Why "new"? The origin of the name is not entirely clear but NJO was new indeed; it included a new generation of British Jazz musicians, which arrived on the scene mostly in the 1960s and had very little in common with the older "swing" generation, which completely dominated the British scene up to that period, and which was entirely immersed in the American tradition, strengthened by the presence of American bands in Britain during the WWII period. Several Jazz Big Bands and orchestras were active on the British scene since the 1920s and well into the 1960s, some quite excellent and even extraordinary, but those limited the artistic scope to imitating the trends originating across the big pond. The list of British composers / bandleaders includes Ted Heath, Syd Lawrence, John Dankworth and numerous others.

By the time this album was recorded the NJO was about five years old. In 1965 it recorded its debut album called "Western Reunion London 1965", which beautifully sums up the first phase of its activity, when the orchestra performed mostly new arrangements of American standards, but the overall sound of the band was already quite unique and stunning. This album was recorded by the second incarnation of the NJO, which included Jack Bruce on bass (who was already a member of Cream at the time), with the regular bassist Tony Reeves taking the position of the album's producer. The rest of the band included: trumpeters Derek Watkins, Harry Lowther, Harry Beckett and Ian Carr, trombonists John Mumford, Michael Gibbs, Derek Wadsworth and Tony Russell, tuba player George Smith, saxophonists Barbara Thompson, Dave Gelly, Jim Philip and Dick Heckstall-Smith, vibraphonist Frank Ricotti and drummer Jon Hiseman.

The album presents eight compositions, five of which are originals composed by NJO members or other British Jazz musicians / composers of the new generation; those are Neil Ardley, Howard Riley, Mike Taylor, Michael Garrick and Michael Gibbs. Two modern American Jazz standards, one by John Coltrane and another one by Miles Davis are also present, but their arrangements are stunningly removed from the original versions known to most Jazz listeners. The remaining composition is by the French composer of Polish / Jewish origin Alexandre Tansman, whose composition receives another highly unusual treatment.

The album emerges triumphantly as a masterpiece of composition, arrangement, performance and intelligent music making, all those on top of its being a first of its kind and a beacon for generations to come. Many other superb Big Band / Orchestral British Jazz recordings will follow (Michael Gibbs, Mike Westbrook and others), but as great as they were, none of them achieved the same primordial perfection, which marked the birth of British Jazz as documented herein.

If anybody wanders about the album's title (and the title of the opening track) and its humorous sleeve design, Google it up, oh ye ignoramuses, or preferably visit the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and look for the original ;)

With the recent parting of Jack Bruce, whom I was honored and lucky to know in person, the reissue of this album is a small solace in his memory and in memory of a generation almost gone…

Mike Taylor - 1967 - Trio

Mike Taylor 
1967 
Trio

 

01. All The Things You Are   
02. Just A Blues   
03. While My Lady Sleeps   
04. The End Of A Love Affair   
05. Two Autumns   
06. Guru   
07. Stella By Starlight   
08. Abena


Bass – Jack Bruce, Ron Rubin
Drums – Jon Hiseman
Piano – Mike Taylor


Sometime in late January 1969, the drowned body of a young man was washed up by the Thames at Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. It took some time to establish his identity, and when he was found to be one Ronald Michael Taylor, a jazz musician of no fixed address, few took any notice. Looked back upon 40 years later, Taylor’s life and work seem so enigmatic that it’s tempting to think his whole existence a hoax. His contemporaries held his abilities as composer and pianist in the highest regard, yet he rejected opportunities to broadcast his work and refused interviews, relying on his music to do the talking. Though he is estimated to have composed over 300 pieces, for everything from solo piano to trios to big bands and orchestras, he recorded only two barely-heard albums, and the few private recordings of him have long since been lost. Though he wrote songs for the world’s most successful rock band, Cream, his attempts to destroy as much of his own music as possible have made his legacy frustratingly small. His biographical details are extremely scant, and photographs of him are virtually non-existent. As Melody Maker remarked in its obituary of February 15th 1969: “He looked like a bank clerk, but acted like a mystic”.

Mike Taylor was born in West London on June 1st 1938, and orphaned young. He and his brother Terry were raised in Ealing by their paternal grandparents, who later moved to Herne Bay, on the Kent coast. Nothing is known of his childhood or education, though he is said to have taken up the clarinet as a teenager. During his National Service in the RAF he focused on the piano, and by the time he returned to civilian life in about 1960 he’d resolved to become a jazz musician. He soon abandoned work as a trainee commercial artist in favour of jamming with like-minded musicians at his grandparents’ home, pausing only to earn a modest wage driving a van for his grandfather’s wallpaper firm. A great admirer of the Horace Silver Quintet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, by the early 1960s he’d formed a band with Chris Bateson and Frank Powell on trumpet and John Mumford on trombone. Bassist Ron Rubin first met him in 1962, and characterised him in his diary at the time as ‘a gaunt mélange of inspiration and inadequacy, hipness and naiveté’. More recently, Rubin told me: “You could hardly have found a more immaculate and polite chap than Mike. He was almost in the Ivy League mould: highly intelligent, well-read and thoughtful, as well as being a totally uncompromising musician.”

Taylor’s music evolved with a changing cast of like-minded musicians including Dave Tomlin (soprano sax), Ron Rubin and Jack Bruce (bass) and Ginger Baker and Randy Jones (drums), combinations of whom would often play at jazz workshops in Herne Bay. Many such sessions were photographed by his brother Terry (who was also Graham Bond’s sometime road manager), but the pictures evidently vanished decades ago, along with their photographer. When Bond invited Baker and Bruce to join him late in 1963, he introduced Jon Hiseman to Taylor, having admired his drumming at a lunchtime rehearsal at the 100 Club. Hiseman brought his schoolmate Tony Reeves with him, and a quartet coalesced early in 1964 comprising Taylor, Tomlin, Reeves and Hiseman. Practising in an old photographic studio in Ilford, they deliberately disregarded all the rules of jazz, improvising around a melody until an appropriate structure (not necessarily the musically correct one) became obvious.

Nonetheless, the Quartet was given the honour of opening for Ornette Coleman at Croydon’s Fairfield Hall on Thursday 29th August 1965. Their performance was dismissed in contemporary reviews, but word of Taylor’s unusual talent was spreading ever more widely. The late Ian Carr, ever on the lookout for talent to encourage, tipped Denis Preston off about him. Preston, Britain’s pre-eminent jazz producer, was duly impressed and invited the Quartet into his legendary Lansdowne Studios in Holland Park to record Pendulum in October. Preston is reported to have been amazed to learn that Taylor had to earn a living washing up in a Lyons Tea Shop, but at this time he was still strongly focused on music – as he is quoted, with Zen-like simplicity, on the back of Pendulum: “This is what I want to do.”

They ran through numerous pieces ahead of the recording date, but Hiseman emphasises: “We were never conscious of rehearsing an album. In the studio we simply played what would have constituted a gig.” As a result, they were able to nail the pieces on the album in a very short time. The first three were radical reworkings of the standards ‘But Not For Me’, ‘Exactly Like You’ and ‘A Night In Tunisia’, while side two was reserved for Taylor’s unorthodox, largely improvised ‘Pendulum’, ‘To Segovia’ and ‘Leeway’ (a tribute to Tomlin’s baby daughter Lee). Avant-garde though they may seem on first listening, Taylor’s sheer attention to detail set him apart from his contemporaries – as Dave Gelly says: “At the time a lot of the music going on was all this splurging noise, but Mike’s was specific and finicky, very intimate.”

Preston was later to tell Jazz Journal that Taylor was “one of the handful of talented jazzmen I have dealt with in this country. Individually, although he was not a musical director, he was one of the outstanding talents – an original.” Nonetheless, it was an inexplicably long time before Pendulum appeared in May of 1966. In the intervening months the Quartet played a number of gigs, and Taylor composed for leading jazz combo Group Sounds Five (comprising Ron Rubin on double bass, Jon Hiseman on drums, Henry Lowther on trumpet, Lyn Dobson on tenor saxophone and Ken McCarthy on piano). Two of the resulting pieces featured in a groundbreaking BBC broadcast on Monday, November 15th 1965: ’13 Note Samba’ was not based on chord sequences, but on a bass figure encompassing all 13 notes of the chromatic scale, octave to octave, while ‘Black & White Raga’ had a central theme based on the black and white keys of the piano, with two central riffs transforming the tonality from the black notes to the white and back again. The broadcast caused consternation at the BBC, and no recording of it is thought to survive, though both pieces are remembered vividly by the musicians involved. On Sunday 12th December 1965 the Quartet are known to have played at the ICA in Dover Street, alongside the Dave Tomlin Sextet and The Graham Bond Organisation. By this time Reeves had left the group to focus on A&R work and his membership of Sounds Orchestral, so his role was assumed by Rubin, though Jack Bruce was also a frequent sideman. Indeed, the two bassists would occasionally play at once.

Despite favourable reviews, Pendulum sold in minute numbers when it finally appeared. Its commercial failure may have accelerated Taylor’s decline, but things had already started to go frighteningly awry in his personal life. He’d always been withdrawn, but friends started to notice radical changes in his persona and appearance. In place of the smart young man in tweeds and tie who would talk eloquently about his music was an unkempt bohemian who’d embraced LSD and cannabis, and communicated largely in hand gestures. “Earlier in the decade I used to call him ‘the 3 o’clock man’,” says Rubin, “because every Saturday he’d arrive at my house absolutely dead on time to rehearse and improvise. He was that precise. But by 1966 he’d become absolutely bedraggled and incoherent.” His long-suffering, popular and beautiful wife, Ann, left him at this time (they had no children, and she is now dead), and as drugs made his behaviour increasingly wild, so old friends began to feel uncomfortable around him. “I didn’t even recognise him the first time I saw him after he cracked up,” says Gelly. “When I’d first known him he was so smart he even wore a tie-pin. Now he looked like a hippie-come-tramp.”

Nonetheless, soon after Pendulum’s release Denis Preston asked him to prepare material for a follow-up, which he did. The sessions for Trio were held on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th July 1966, without Reeves or Tomlin but with Hiseman, Jack Bruce (who’d formed Cream days previously) and Rubin. Rubin well remembers Taylor’s attitude towards recording: “Because his take on standards was unrecognisable, I asked him to jot down the changes for me on ‘The End Of A Love Affair’. He refused, telling me he preferred a random approach – and, for some reason, it worked.” With Trio taped, Taylor seemed to abandon any sense of musical or personal discipline, allowing his hair to grow to his waist, along with a straggly beard. Having moved out of the flat he’d shared with his brother and Hiseman, he was ‘of no fixed abode’ for the remainder of his life, sleeping in squats, on people’s floors and in the open. “Something shifted in him at some point, and no one ever knew quite what,” Hiseman reflects. “He created a world, pulled himself into it and shut the door.” Rubin's diary records an encounter with Taylor at a gig by the Soft Machine and Tomlin’s trio, the Giant Sun Trolley, at the UFO club on Saturday, February 18th 1967: 'Mike spent the evening lying comatose, rigid and immobile in the middle of the floor below the bandstand, dancers gyrating around him, his hands crossed on his chest. We played without him.' “He became something approaching schizophrenic,” says Henry Lowther. “I remember a gig at the Old Place when he was playing the piano, just about, and screaming his head off. It was pretty disturbing.”
 
Trio crept out in June 1967 (almost a year after it had been recorded), and received warm reviews. ‘Mike Taylor is one of Britain’s most original young pianists’, said Jazz Journal of the album, while Gramophone described him as ‘one of the new school of young British jazz musicians who seem to have reached maturity at a very early age’, in a review worth quoting at length: ‘‘Pianist Mike Taylor is one of the new school of young British jazz musicians who seem to have reached maturity at a very early age. This, his second LP, is one of the most refreshing piano records to have been made in this country for some time. Taylor’s style is free, flowing and graceful, a compound of elements to be found in the work of men such as Lennie Tristano and Bill Evans. But he makes greater use of his accompanists than either, and for that reason the LP is almost as much a triumph for drummer Jon Hiseman, certainly one of the very finest small band drummers this side of the Atlantic… Hiseman’s intelligent appreciation of the situation and careful attentiveness is of great help to Taylor, particularly on tracks such as ‘All The Things You Are’ (a song which has not been recorded for some time, I would guess). There is some thrilling bass playing to be heard from both Jack Bruce and Ron Rubin; they alternate on most tracks, but play together in places. In fact a great deal or care has gone into the planning and production of the LP; the balance of four originals to four ‘standards’ is ideal, while the choice of musicians could hardly be bettered… Taylor and his men show that there are paths for jazz development to follow which are logical extensions of what has gone before, without necessarily being radical simply for the sake of being radical.' Melody Maker was also ecstatic:

Though Rubin and Tomlin strove to keep him playing, his condition made promotional work impossible and sales of Trio were no better than Pendulum’s (a few weeks ago a copy sold for over £1300 on eBay). By the time of its release Bruce was conquering the world with Cream, alongside Ginger Baker, and Hiseman had departed for Graham Bond’s band. Hiseman’s departure had caused no ill-feeling – Bond, a highly versatile musician himself, became close friends with Taylor at this time, partly because both were so recklessly experimental with drugs. They jammed together frequently, though no recordings have surfaced, and Bond later commented of the music they made: “It was extremely avant-garde for the period, but also very melodic. With Taylor it was another Bach coming into existence.” This was wishful thinking, perhaps. Significantly, when Taylor moved out of the flat he’d been sharing with Hiseman in Kew, he left his piano behind. Indeed, he is widely quoted as having said that if only he could find a pianist capable of playing his music as he could, he’d happily abandon the keyboard himself. In August 1967 Rubin wrote of a gig at Ronnie Scott’s Old Place in Gerrard Street that 'Mike turned up bearded and barefooted – had a job getting past the doorman. Played no piano at all, just a broken tabla drum and pipes. Astonished American couple on front row goggling at the burning fag between his toes. At one point he started talking mumbo-jumbo. I said I couldn’t understand, and he replied: “It’s okay, Ron – I’m talking to the loudspeaker.”' Things were even worse by September, when they met again at a supposed rehearsal at Rubin's flat. 'He said he’d had an interesting conversation with a deer in Richmond Park, where he was living rough. Told me he’d walked all the way from there, and sat on our sofa picking stones and debris out of his bare feet. I think he’s going crazy.'

Perhaps surprisingly, on Wednesday 15th November 1967, Taylor put together a detailed résumé of his work to date, with a view to gaining financial assistance from the government. Clearly he could still be meticulous when he had to be. Most of the document consists of manuscript, but the first page has this introduction.

As 1968 came around, Taylor's friends started to feel distinctly uncomfortable around him. Again, according to Rubin's diary: 'Henry Lowther says Mike is going completely potty - he attacked Ann (his wife) because she "wasn’t treating the man she now lives with properly," and is almost certifiable and perhaps dangerous. Paranoia, like thinking Dave Tomlin wants to kill him. Dick Heckstall-Smith’s wife won’t let him into the house. In this weather he should be wearing snow shoes, not no shoes!' Perhaps surprisingly, at this time Taylor continued to compose sporadically, even co-writing three songs with Ginger Baker for Cream’s Wheels Of Fire album (‘Passing The Time’, ‘Pressed Rat and Warthog’ and ‘Those Were The Days’), which topped the charts in August 1968. I have attempted to contact Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker to ask them about their experiences with Taylor, but received no reply, and neither Baker's autobiography (published in October 2009) or Harry Shapiro's authorised biography of Bruce (published in February 2010) offers any illumination whatever. Regardless of Cream's interest in approaching his compositions from a rock standpoint, jazz remained Taylor's passion, and a notable opportunity came his way when he was asked to contribute material to Neil Ardley’s New Jazz Orchestra. This had been set up as a means of showcasing young UK players who wanted to play modern jazz in a big band setting, and featured Hiseman and Bruce amongst many others. Their second album, Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe, was recorded in London on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th September 1968, and featured one original composition by Taylor (‘Ballad’) and an arrangement by him of a Segovia piece (‘Study’). The orchestra also attempted a big band arrangement of Pendulum, but it was deemed too complicated at the time.

Another unrecorded work was ‘Horn, Gut & Skin Suite’, loosely based on the mathematics used in building the pyramids, and intended to reflect their mystique. Though it featured a large horn ensemble, it centred on three drummers (Baker, Hiseman and Phil Seamen). Taylor is also known to have written at least ten so-called ‘folk songs’ over the years, most of which remain unheard (though one cropped up on Norma Winstone’s Edge Of Time album after his death). ‘Half Blue’ found its way onto a later New Jazz Orchestra album, whilst ‘Jumping Off The Sun’ was recorded by Colosseum and used by Jack Bruce in a BBC Jazz Workshop broadcast in 1969, as was ‘Folk Song No.2’ and ‘Brown Thursday’ – the latter being one of the few scores Hiseman managed to save when Taylor inexplicably decided to burn all his manuscripts at the end of the year. Henry Lowther had been in possession of some other beautifully-bound Taylor manuscripts. “After two or three years, he unexpectedly asked for them back, so I of course handed them over. Someone later told me he’d only wanted them in order to destroy them.”

Though he still showed flashes of musical inspiration, any hopes of him returning to the studio were forlorn. Towards the end of his life he experimented with electronics and sped-up tapes, but it was desultory stuff. His LSD consumption remained prodigious, and he even served a brief prison sentence at some point in 1968 (possibly for vagrancy), but it did little to chasten him: Rubin recalls receiving a letter from him in prison, requesting hashish in the post. It pains his friends to remember his last months. “He took to busking with an old, broken Arabic clay drum,” says Lowther. “If anyone tried to engage him in conversation, all he would reply was ‘I’m a man of God’.” Dave Tomlin recalled that the last time he saw him, he was walking barefoot in the street, banging his hand drum and claiming he’d just met “the King of the Gypsies”. Despite his desperate condition, there was still a consensus that he was a unique talent. He met Hiseman and others to improvise from time to time, and as late as November 1968 the Mike Taylor Trio (with Rubin on bass) was booked to play at the first of the winter concerts organised by the Jazz Society at Conway Hall. He failed to appear until almost the end, however, when the New Jazz Orchestra were playing. His spot had been filled by Howard Riley, who happened to be in the audience. It was the last time many of the musicians he’d known saw him alive, and he is said to have seemed more than usually morose before sloping away again.

Mike Taylor was barely 30 when he died. It’s not certain that he killed himself deliberately – in his state, any delusion (even the ability to walk on water, it has been suggested) was conceivable. Rubin suspects he may have tried to swim the freezing estuary to reach his grandparents’ house in Herne Bay, only to lose his life in the strong currents. Rubin recently came across the following, terribly poignant local newspaper cutting:

'Mystery Of Body In Creek: Police are still trying to identify a man whose body was washed up at Leigh Creek on Sunday. Investigations ruled out thoughts that he was one of three wildfowlers lost off Foulness a fortnight ago, and a possible link with a cabin cruiser found wrecked on Shoebury Beach has also been discounted. He is aged between 25 and 30, 5ft. 8in. tall, of medium build, with shoulder-length dark brown hair, auburn moustache, a long and straggy full beard, straight nose, blue eyes and large ears with small lobes. He was wearing a cream striped shirt, two white vests, two pairs of trousers and brown shoes. The body had been in the water for about six or seven hours - perhaps less.'

The precise date of his death is unknown, though his gravestone (in Sutton Road Cemetery, Southend-On-Sea) gives January 19th. It bears the inscrutable epitaph 'I dive from a springboard into cool clear water, and yet I furnish my springboard with my experience so that my life is more than my action'. This was apparently penned by Taylor, though its source is unknown.

His funeral, held in Southend on February 7th, was shambolic, with most mourners turning up to the wrong church. Beyond jazz circles and warm appraisals in Melody Maker (‘Taylor was one of the most original talents to arrive on the British scene in the last decade… his approach to jazz piano playing seemed to owe nothing to any other pianist’) and the Sunday Times (‘from the start he had a completely original talent’), his death went unremarked. Graham Bond, whose own career bore strong similarities to Taylor’s, perhaps spoke for many in saying: “Mike was the wellspring. Everyone dug him.”

The New Jazz Orchestra's Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe was released in March 1969, a month after his burial. Melody Maker was enthusiastic, writing that 'rumours that this album was something special have been filtering through the jazz scene since it was recorded last September. They didn’t exaggerate – it’s superb… All the arrangers have made use of the full tonal palette, and have not been afraid to slap on great thick slabs of sound.' After his death, Taylor's collaborators made numerous efforts to promote his work. BBC Radio 1’s Jazz Workshop broadcast a tribute to him on Saturday 17th May 1969, and a memorial concert was held on Thursday December 4th:

In 1973, Ian Carr referred to Taylor a few times in his history of British jazz, Music Outside, but more relevant to posterity is the full tribute album recorded by Denis Preston at Lansdowne in June 1973. It was the brainchild of the late Neil Ardley, and featured Taylor’s big-band arrangement of 'Pendulum'. The line-up, featuring Neil Ardley, Kenny Wheeler, Ian Carr, Henry Lowther, Harold Beckett, Jon Hiseman, Jack Bruce and others, amply demonstrates how respected Taylor was. Though it went unreleased at the time, it's now available as Mike Taylor Remembered. Other than a few scraps that remain in the National Sound Archive, however, no more of Taylor’s material has surfaced, and it seems that his work is doomed to the obscurity he apparently sought.

There’s no consensus as to what influence Mike Taylor would have had if he’d lived. Dave Gelly told Jazz Journal in 1974: “I have a horrible feeling that if Mike was still around, he’d be ignored as he was in the 60s”, while Pete Brown felt: “His music was unconventional, but it would have been latched onto eventually.” Jon Hiseman, meanwhile, prefers not to dwell on the tragedy of Taylor’s life. “I don’t find thinking of Mike depressing at all,” he says. “The flesh and bone is irrelevant – ultimately all that counts is the fact that the music he made is fascinating, and people still want to hear it.”