Thursday, August 9, 2018

Sonny Simmons with Barbara Donald-Reincarnation; Arhoolie Records #551, 2015

A friend of Disaster Amnesiac who is somewhat in the know regarding American Master Jazz Musician Sonny Simmons has recently told me that Mr. Simmons is in pretty bad shape, unable to move his arms apparently. Thankfully, Sonny has a permanent roof over his head during this ordeal, but, man, it feels tragic to hear this news. Thankfully for astute Jazz listeners, there are discs such as Reincarnation, an absolute smoker of a live recording that captures the Man, rippin' and runnin' during a prime period of his playing life. I recently grabbed a copy at Arhoolie Records' home base in El Cerrito, and its sounds have been bouncing me into the kind of delights that one gets from seriously great Jazz.
Reincarnation starts off with American Jungle Theme, in which the quartet, featuring Simmons' former spouse Barbara Donald on trumpet, his son Zarak Simmons on drums, pianist Travis Shook, and bass player Court Crawford. The tune's opening theme, a crisp, Bop-ish line, sends Sonny off into an incredible extended solo to start. His complete control of the alto sax is on full display as he crisply rips through it, pushed by the intensity of Zarak's polyrhythms and Shook's modal comping on the piano. Donald answers with her own, somewhat shorter but equally intense passages on trumpet, with her son Zarak shifting the rhythms just ever so slightly, enough to provide great contrast while keep the overall energetic feel the same. His time spent studying with Elvin Jones and Tony Williams really clearly shows, but when the group gets down to piano/bass/drums interplay before restating the head, his individuality is readily apparent.
The title track, up next, is familiar to Disaster Amnesiac from 1994's Ancient Ritual (still got the cassette!) and fascinating in this live set, as Shook rounds out the sound during the head, filling out the theme before Sonny takes another turn, one which is full of fast runs, all colored by his deep knowledge of Blues and Jazz. He may be the last living connection to Charlie Parker, seriously, save perhaps Bobby Bradford and surely not many others. Listen and study and learn my friends. Sonny Simmons kicks the REAL. Crawford plays great, melting notes within the rhythmic matrix here. Barbara Donald kicks in next with a flying trumpet solo, right out of Sonny's statements. It mirrors his solo with its fast and high energies, keeping things going as Zarak continues to romp with Shook. Crawford does a great solo of pizzicato high notes before handing it off to the piano, whence this tight rhythm sections mixes solidly, all three members bouncing ideas off of each other before Donald and Sonny trade 8's and everyone goes back to the head.
Sonny shows his strong familiarity with standards on Body and Soul. He starts off sweet before branching out into more of that great alto sax abstraction, stretching out from the tune's changes as the piano/bass/drums section plays it cool behind him.  Shook follows with a pretty solo, during which Zarak pops and swings with his great brush technique. This relatively short number is rounded out by a quick statement from Court before the alto flares back in for the tune's head is stated again.
Barbara Donald comes back to the fold for Ancient Ritual, another hard swinging odyssey on Reincarnation. This track gets all kind of heavy trance moves from the thick, tight playing of the rhythm section as Sonny plays an extended solo. He moves from mid to low to high registers and just speaks for bar after bar of warm, sublime ruminations on his axe. Zarak chugs and rolls underneath all of the action of his fathers playing; it's quite audible that they're in serious sync. Wherever father goes, son follows, and vice versa. Piano and bass emerge from within the tom tom maelstrom always present but wisely laying down more simple tapestries for the alto and drums to emerge from. Again we find Barbara starting right on key in continuation of Sonny's solo. Her playing is punctuated by some dramatically sparse moments that are pushed by more great tom tom rolling from Zarak. The notes wave into the winds of the band and then burble out the perfect time, making way for Crawford's higher register bass notes. Zarak steps up with some playing that reminds Disaster Amnesiac of Art Blakey at his most tribal or Tony Williams at his loosest, with melodies flying from his drums. Oh how the room of Barb's BBQ in Olympia WA must have reverberated that evening! The quintet plays the head with a brief coda, lead again by Zarak to its conclusion. The slight applause at here is kind of heartbreaking to me. Did this audience realize the magic that they were privy to?
The CD closes with a lovely version of Over the Rainbow. Donald plays around with the melody in really sweet ways. Her solo has almost brought tears to this listener's eyes, what with its emotional depth. The emotions shown: sadness, elation, optimism, sorry.....they're all in it. Travis lays into some lovely melodic piano playing, notable also for its insights into the harmony of this old tune as well. It sounds very much as if he's familiar with it at a deep level, a level he brings out. The trumpet returns, as if especially inspired, going to high notes and trills above the brushing latticework of the drums. There's a point on this track wherein it feels as though they could play into infinity, but soon they restate the head with even more of that Blues-ey sadness at parting, and stop. Over the Rainbow has always been a song that expresses such depth of longing, and these four musicians bring that with incredible depth.
As stated, Sonny Simmons is, apparently, in pretty rough shape. Disaster Amnesiac hopes that he is receiving physical comfort for his ailment. Thank you, Sonny Simmons, for sharing your vision with the music loving public. And thank you, Ahroolie, for making Reincarnation available to us. This here is the GOOD STUFF, and we're lucky to have it. Dig.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Bill Brovold's Stone Soup-Michael Goldberg Variations; Public Eyesore Records #141, 2018

Along with some really fine discs of new music, a recent package from Public Eyesore contained a promo sheet announcing the label's 20th anniversary. Great job Bryan! The music that you've been documenting for the last two decades is always so compelling and groovy. Kudos!
Disaster Amnesiac is breaking with habit by starting off the reviews out of sequence, having delved immediately into Bill Brovold's Stone Soup's Michael Goldberg Variations, a disc of music that is generally quite introspective and quiet. Bill Brovold, per the liner note, utilized the input of artists Michael Goldberg in creating a piece of music that is Minimalist without being meandering or even repetitive. A four or five note motif is played on an acoustic guitar, around and along and beside which various guests are heard adding their own musical additions. Guitarist Mark Ormerod goes first, finger picking some lovely guitar lines, notable for their at times fret buzzed tension. What sounds like an amp being hit for subtle feedback and viola-like theremin sounds from Scott Burland come next. Disaster Amnesiac is fascinated by the very unique sounds Burland coaxes from his theremin; the instrument really is developing by leaps and bounds, and Scott pretty clearly is on the forefront of that. Bill's former band leader Rhys Chatham appears next with cool flute sounds wordless vocalizations that evoke very primal feelings as they wrap around Brovold's continuing guitar float. Really sweet e-bow riffs on electric guitar, too. Things seem to get back to the aesthetics of the first track as Fred Lonberg-Holm uses cello with implements in order to get shorter percussive attacks followed by long drone bow  sounds. This track feels like it go on for a great deal longer, but, in keeping with the overall mission of Variations, it fades into Leonardo ProtoPeople's synth pops and crackles as they fuzz and distort, pointillist additions to the guitar that has transformed into a sumptuous current. Kieth Moline seems to have added both audio processing and guitar to his version of the piece: the repeated guitar riff rings more, colored by buzzing strings and hollow echoes. The track feels like a natural half way point as it up the energy with its other worldly dynamic flashes.
Stone Soup settles back down into an easier boil with Frank Schultz's lap steel bends and turns. The instrument surely brings out a bit more of rural, Western U.S. feel as its Schultz's lines emerge over and atop the motif, cooling it off from its previous interactions and setting up the second half of this disc. Guitarist Nick Didkovsky treats his sounds with great psychedelic tape delay flashes that circle somewhat beneath the Goldberg Variations riff. These allow the buzzing of its strings to be highlighted. It's as if Nick wanted to frame it, rather than add, and even as his playing gathers intensity, it remains settled in a "support" role. Quite an astute aesthetic move. Tracks 9 and 10 segue right into each other, with the former featuring Toy Pop artist Frank Pahl, who adds chiming percussive hits from what sounds like a plastic toy piano. The latter has Karen Haglof spinning out sweet six string Psychedelic, and Disaster Amnesiac is moved to hear echoes of Golden Gate Park 1968. NEVER a bad feeling as far as I'm concerned! This track rolls like sublime fog careening down into the Western Addition. The paired guitar sounds of Beth Wilusz and Erik Gustafson flutter ghostly on Michael Goldberg Variations' penultimate track, ascending and descending subtly around the now transformed central riff, which takes center stage and holds it right on through to disc's end, a second feature for Mark Ormerod. This short piece has small, two note riff, somewhat higher notes giving a last counterpoint. A quick fade, and its work is done.
Disaster Amnesiac's initial experience with Bill Brovold's Stone Soup had me listening to it on a San Pablo Bay cold Saturday, ducking in and out of its sonics as I watched marine layer mixing with ash from horrible fires a couple of hundred miles north of my residence. Michael Goldberg Variations provided the perfect soundtrack for this bittersweet experience, with its pensive modes. It features music that most certainly could be utilized either as good background or for more foreground intensive listening. Either way, Brovold and Co. have clearly done their job. Enclosed within a lovely hand printed and colored cover, this disc just exudes effort and integrity. No surprise, seeing as that it's out on Public Eyesore!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Youth Chairs-Some Kind Of Amusement Park; digital self release via Bandcamp, 2018

It's always a pleasure for Disaster Amnesiac to hear from David Winogrond. I've been in contact with this great, under appreciated drummer for about ten years now, and when he gets in touch with news of his current musical moves, I feel very happy just knowing that he's soldiering on. A couple of months back, David let me know that Youth Chairs would be releasing new material, and despite a pretty terrible lag on my part in posting, I've known that it would get the Disaster Amnesiac treatment. Hopefully that's a good thing for them!
Some Kind Of Amusement Park begins with the stomping Hot Rod To Nowhere, which features Gabriele Morgan on vocals. It's interesting to note that Youth Chairs utilize two vocalists on this release, Gabriele and Kim Dart Hurwitz, both of whom were in the band's initial early 1980's runs. Really cool to see this type of cooperative compromise! Gabriele's voice is a bit more gritty, and it works perfectly for this track, with its early 1960's U.K. Country Blues feel. David's drumming locks in perfectly with Larry Jacobson's slashing guitar chords and John Richey's understated bass playing. When the band band launches quickly into a post-bridge ascending unison riff it's a thing of beauty! Hot Rod really hooked this listener's attention.
Youth Chairs bring the sound a bit closer to their Los Angeles home on When Amy Says. The tune has that post-Punk energy that fueled many bands in Southern California, with nodding hints towards Bakersfield and maybe Ventura and Pedro aesthetics. Guitars jangle a bit more, and Kim's vocals feature a bit more naivete perhaps. David's swishing cymbal sounds and crisp fills drive this great piece of Pop Rock energy.
Gabriele's more deeply dramatic voice starts off You Made Me Believe. Disaster Amnesiac again finds it fascinating to compare hers with Kim's. They're both great, mind you. Just very fun to dwell on the differences as these songs roll by. The former has a voice perfect for the sentiments of this damn fine love song. Larry strums some effective acoustic guitar and Lisa Haley helps out with lovely viola, while Richey and Winogrond keep things simple and clear in the rhythm section. A very pretty, uplifting, optimistic track.
Youth Chairs bring the energy back up for the spiky Kim feature, Next Best Thing, which fuses most of the stated influences into a very catchy chant about misunderstanding within love relations. Any song that features the line "...the weed is on your nightstand/and the rest is in your head..." is fine with Disaster Amnesiac, that's for sure. Such a damn catchy chorus and bridge, to boot.
Gabriele takes the mic again for the world weary sentiments of Your Perfect World. This tune cannily fuses sunny Dream Pop keyboards from John Kaysing with righteously dissing critiques of some shiny scene. Was this written during Youth Chairs' initial forays? Surely these types of insights are perennially available to the observant person. The approaching of wrapping this message into such a lovely Pop sound is real neat.
Next up, we have the deceptive Don't Make Me Your World, and it is so because while it's Gabriele singing, she sounds a lot like Kim. Or is that vice versa? This track has a loping, almost Ska feel at times, greased by more cool keys from Kaysing and David's tight fills and swift hi hat sticking patterns. Disaster Amnesiac keeps thinking "the Who" during this song's bridge, and envisions a strange carnival during its brief non-sung musical interlude.
Some Kind Of Amusement Park's penultimate track, Paper, kicks in with more fine jangle from Larry's guitar before Kim's return to the mic is pushed with power chord authority. Tight arrangement keeps things moving on this track, leading to more of that great Los Angeles (not Hollywood, mind you) cymbal bell bar stomp action. That sweet jangle gets reinserted there for more Youth Chairs ear candy.
The album ends with a tom tom lead ode to cross country travel, New York Gray, in which Kim utilizes a bit more dramatic leanings to describe a rather ambiguous affair that takes place in the Big Apple. Kaysing's keyboard solo has Disaster Amnesiac thinking about Doug Yule's great playing on that third Velvets LP. Gray most definitely has that bitter sweet feel, and having recently been to NYC, I'm relating. Life's full joy and sadness, and a track such as this adeptly illumines this fact.
Full of Pop vim and Punk Rock vigor, Some Kind Of Amusement Park continues the odyssey of Youth Chairs in a compellingly listenable way. As stated, Disaster Amnesiac always relishes hearing from David Winogrond. Sounds this catchy and energetic just sweeten that deal even more. Nicely done, Youth Chairs!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Henry Kaiser-The Deep Unreal; Metalanguage Records, 2017

It was completely unexpected by Disaster Amnesiac to have come into a copy of Henry Kaiser's The Deep Unreal. I found myself being handed one by the man himself after a scheduling snafu had brought us into a brief bit of contact at an Oakland recording studio. The CD was quickly loaded into my listening rotation, and has been, much as I imagine Henry's views during his deep sea dives to be, full of odd and delightful surprises.
Opening track The Story Of My 2017 Austral Spring At The McMurdo Intake Jetty plunges the listener quite rapidly into Kaiser's personal ocean of sound, wherein he finger picks chiming single notes that drift atop currents of delayed drone figures. These sounds, per the liner note all improvised with no looping or overdubs, blend into a long form meditation of the guitar and its sonic possibilities. Kaiser's been playing for a long time now, and many of his approaches are at play here: glassy tones, 'plexed filigrees, quick runs along the strings, micro tonal zones and more. All of this coalesces into a piece that has felt both seductively relaxing and scarily intense to me as I've listened. It's a marvel to hear all of this real time sound organization as it blooms into and out of its beautiful moods and modes. Disaster Amnesiac has thought that it has the kind of "natural" feel that much instrumental music aspires to, the emotional depth that New Age music promised, the other worldliness that I've always wanted from Psychedelic music. Deep within this track is a kind of purity of playing which should serve as an inspiration to those with ears to hear it. Henry dives way deep.
Unreal's eponymous track kicks off with a bit more darkness than its predecessor while Kaiser continues to investigate the the areas into which his playing drifts. Don't panic though, as he's soon spinning those luminescent notes, clavichord-like in their timbre and pushed through some fascinating pedal processes. It's as if one were watching strange jellies and bubbles as they journey through some deep zone within the ocean of Terry Riley's brain. Disaster Amnesiac has sworn that I've heard a quote from My Favorite Things, to boot! The Deep Unreal does have the kind of raw openness of an elongated Coltrane jam, with the way in which the piece spirals ever more into itself, the music revealing more and more as it makes its way through time. Stunning technique throughout, but  one never gets the showing off vibe that can mar the work of certain shredders. This technique is sublimated to aesthetics, from which art emerges.
Never one to shy away from Blues, Kaiser plays a good one on A Spoonful Of Ice Death Blues. The delayed tones setting up a somewhat foreboding mood as the the finger picking dances atop. It's tough to believe that this track was recorded live, especially when a ripping solo begins to emerge from this initial interplay. I've listened to a fair amount of soloing from Henry, and this one ranks as probably the most effectively wiggy one. He goes off into a progression that is blasting and raw, yet chillingly smart as it melds intellect and emotion into a killer statement of what the guitar is capable of showing when in certain hands. Ice Death Blues leaves whomever are currently Kaiser's contemporaries in the dust as far as real expression within the Blues is concerned. Dig it and be blown away.
The CD ends with Henry picking up an acoustic guitar for First You Fall In Love With Antarctica-And Then It Breaks Your Heart. Here, he shows his Kottke/Fahey side in a sweetly melodic piece of American plucking. It's another piece of sheer beauty from his mind and fingers. Just gorgeous, and over quickly. Please pay attention and let your heart melt as you do so.
Mention must also be made of the sonic depth of The Deep Unreal. Disaster Amnesiac has noted that the tones on this disc, from low to high, are all so expertly captured. The former are speaker-shaking in their presence, and the latter are incredibly clear in theirs. No engineer is listed, so I'm assuming that Henry was charge of that aspect as well. Tape Op readers, take note!
The Deep Unreal is a masterful work from Henry Kaiser. Disaster Amnesiac can't say much more than that. You just gotta listen to it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Nava Spatiala-Noisenautics Vol. IX; Muteant Sounds Net Label, 2018, digital download

One thing that Disaster Amnesiac is learning for certain as I continue to dive into the download thicket sent to me be Muteant Sounds is that along with being a purveyor of fine Free Jazz, the label is also gifted with some really great Noise/Industrial acts. Seeing as that I'm a fan of the latter as much as being one of the former, taking a flyer on them was obviously pretty easy.
Bucharest based Nava Spatiala have cooked up their own brand of Noise, dubbed it Noisenautics, and have been lucky enough to have releaseed Noisenautics Vol. IX on Muteant Sounds. Consisting of two tracks, this offering from Miron Ghiu and Claudiu Chihaescu boils and bubbles with a pace that flows like hot lava.
Opening track Mental Noise Detox starts off with rocket ship sounds that are wrapped in spiky feedback and sharp dial tones. This combination forms a drone that sets up and continues for several minutes of Noise immersion. What Disaster Amnesiac has really enjoyed about this sound bath is the way in which it its pace allows for either deep listening or background ambiance. There is real depth to the sound processing, and the listener can either fall into it or stand/move/dance before it. I'm always grateful to Noise acts that allow the option! Nova Spatiala's promo blurb states that the group's sounds "...could make you dance or or get tripped out on a journey of sounds...", and I'm in full agreement with them. Detox wends its way through many discrete zones, but it always has the feel of being one piece. Picture yourself on a boat journeying down a glitch-ey river of multi-colored information that manifests itself as physical embodiment of sound. When it ends, you'll most definitely be feeling its traces.
Noisenautics Vol. IX second track, Morning Glory, cuts in quickly with percussive shaking sounds and more glitch.  What sounds like a keyboard ostinato takes up the pace even more, and the listener is off and running into a somewhat more claustrophobic area. Siren sounds rise up, giving the impression of a kosmiche krieg being fought. The battle lines settle in for more of the nuanced drone which Nava Spatiala are do adept at dishing out. Toward the end of the track, Disaster Amnesiac has felt encased in some kind of sonic ice block; these chilly sounds begin to warble and eventually lead to a very dramatic hard cutoff. I've actually had to go to their page at the Muteant Bandcamp page to check and hear if my file was corrupted. It wasn't. The track just has a jarring, hard stop that completes the listening experience is a somewhat frustrating way. Ah, well, I guess that Noise shouldn't be all about ease of use, now, should it?
Combining Noise with nuance, Noisenautics Vol. IX would surely be of use to fans along multiple stops of the Experimental Music spectrum. Maybe pair it with some of Muteant Sound's more Fire Music offerings for a greater view of the depth currently on display within the international Outsider Music world. Stay tuned for more reviews of Muteant releases, as Disaster Amnesiac is nowhere near the end of download codes sent over from them!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Abbath-s/t; Season of Mist Records, 2016

Every time that Disaster Amnesiac enjoys and/or writes about any Metal made past, say, 1990, I confess that I feel a certain amount of mental trepidation. It's the details that really scare me: it's pretty much a given that after that date, micro-genres within Metal began to take root, and one can certainly be called out as a phony for missing even the slightest detail. Still, Disaster Amnesiac continues to enjoy it, and goddamn but I've enjoyed the hell out of Abbath's powerful 2016 release, Abbath.
Marching boots let the listener know right away: there will be no peace for you here on Abbath as To War! slams in with a stomping groove from drummer Creature as Abbath frames it with some seriously violent, ripping tri-tones. A minute in, and the entire rhythm section locks in and leads in to a blast beat that supports the vocals. This piece is all kinds of dramatic, and I swear that I hear a subtle nod to Tony Iommi at one point. It's these kinds of nods to their antecedents that often make Metal bands compelling to Disaster Amnesiac; paired with the sheer creativity displayed on the opener, To War! sets the tone for the Metal massacre that follows it.
Abbath stays locked in for Winterbane, as Creature continues to slay behind the kit, driving bassist King and Abbath toward a pounding 2/4 breakdown and a snapping bridge part which grinds out Power Metal riffs. King coaxes huge steel pole riffs from his bass and Abbath throws out more delicious dissonance before Creature pauses, signalling a return to the stomp. Headbanging fucking delights abound before some fine acoustic picking pairs with a half time breakdown, evidence of master song crafting and arrangement. Abbath's vocals are great on this ending tag, too.
Perhaps a bit more Iommi influence shows on the spiky lead guitar intro to Ashes of the Damned, a medieval lute sound after which the group quickly pulls out their Thrash chops, a "demonic storm" of pure Metal fury, punctuated by well-placed synth hits. This cut travels into a major chord anthemic zone for a brief moment before that doomed lute arises again, leading to a quick, thrashing outro. Disaster Amnesiac's perceptions are left on the side of the road, whipped by the frenzy into exhaustion.
The pace slows down, but certainly not the energy, for Ocean of Wounds. Creature sets things up with heavy tom tom pounding. The thick guitar and bass tones perch atop the beat as Abbath croaks out his lyrics. It all leads to one of the best hooks that Disaster Amnesiac has ever had the pleasure of hearing from Black Metal. Every time I hear it, my excitement level jumps up several notches. Abbath seem to know not to abuse a riff like this, as it's only utilized twice before the songs fades away. Disaster Amnesiac has already mentioned song craft, but dammit, I must do so again. Abbath is awash in astute examples of it, and one need look no further than Wounds for great examples of it.
Then again, one really should continue listening, as I suspect one would, for Count the Dead. A post-battle order, given in the rain, presumably reeking of blood and guts, starts the song off as Abbath rips out high end chords for King and Creature to lock in with. They march through the grimy field and into yet another great goddamn chorus, repeated twice, before another blast beat is set up. The group swirls around within the fast rhythm as Abbath intones Simon Dancaster's bloody lyrical vision and spurts out a great melodic solo. Dig on how rough his throat sounds on that last chorus. Dude ain't holding back, that's for sure.
Speedy double time Thrash pushes the next track, Fenrir Hunts, quickly out into the air. Creature breaks things down while never losing sight of the beat as King and Abbath join him, speedily spraying out their Metal assault. The drums at times threaten to overtake everything else going on on this track. It's most definitely a showcase for a kick ass drummer. Abbath adds some more of his lead guitar voice as the trio breaks things down and falls into the blast. The ending portion of Hunts has a stumbling, almost tiered portion before returning to solid Thrash to end. An almost Technical Metal song, and Abbath nail it.
Is Root of the Mountain a sly nod to Blackmore or Priest? Disaster Amnesiac hears a lot of British steel in its opening, clean pre-NWOBHM tones that set up a solid 4/4 opening verse. They end up at a triplet feel, almost swinging, much the same that many bands did pre-Metallica. Clearly, as in Abbath's case, they still do, and it works. King gets downright Geezer on the bass here, too. This one's absolutely rooted in the sounds of Abbath's progenitors, but they've built their own, powerful sounds and firmly embedded them on this mountainside.
Abbath concludes with tight thrashing of Endless. The group, seemingly not contented to end with the power and majesty of Root, throws down one last ripping gauntlet of pure speed and fury. They lock in with more of that whip tight precision, in Dancaster's words, "....Dauntless Fearless Tireless Relentless..." Ah.....hell yeah. Forty five or so minutes in, and Abbath is still kicking the listener squarely between the perceptual nuts, and that ending fade guarantees that they'll still be there for you when you return, waiting....
If you're a fan of well crafted, tightly played Metal, of the Black or many other varieties, you surely will want to return to Abbath, too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Z'EV-Mackay Duo-Live KFJC 2007; Muteant Sounds, 2018 digital release

The initial plan that Disaster Amnesiac had for reviewing the massive Muteant Sounds file transfer was strictly linear. I'd get to each one in the order in which they'd arrived. It was scotched when Live KFJC 2007, the recording of z'ev and Steve Mackay in duo at the BEST RADIO STATION IN THE WORLD, arrived at my inbox. I knew that I'd be listening to it before any of the earlier ones received. Disaster Amnesiac had been very excited to hear it. I mean, come on! The brilliant Industrial percussionist paired with the equally brilliant Noise Rock tenor man, caught live and sweating in the Pit at The Wave of the West? There was just no question that I was gonna dive in pretty quickly.
Live KFJC 2007 starts off with metallic gonging sounds from z'ev, which are quickly joined by clicking pad sounds from Steve's tenor. Mackay does not stay there long. He plays a Bluesy statement shortly thereafter, which in many ways sets the tone for this set. It's not that there aren't plenty of moments of fiery abstraction from the two masters of the their craft; indeed, plenty of moments of energetic wailing, especially from Mackay, occur. That said, as I've listened, it's struck me just how earthy and, again, blue, so many of the sounds on this recording are. Disaster Amnesiac hears a lot more Ornette than Pharaoh, let's put it that way. I'm pretty sure that there's a Lonely Woman quote at some point, even. Steve is by no means subdued with his playing. It's just quite contemplative much of the time. z'ev does a great job of matching Mackay's sax language. I've marveled at his ability with accompaniment on here. At times, Disaster Amnesiac has thought to myself "...z'ev plays the Blues...", mostly on account of just how in the pocket his playing is throughout. Aside from some short bursts in which his partner lays out, z'ev sounds content to lay down relatively quiet percussive patterns and drones alongside the sax. As usual, it's all he really needs to do: when z'ev's playing, one is bound to feel it, whether piano or fortissimo. The essential quality of z'ev's musical adeptness, shown by the way in which he can mesh with another player, is a huge revelation here. I realize that he spent a lot time in his later years playing in combination with other musicians. Still, that point really comes out on Live KFJC 2007.
This relatively short release features two committed and proven musical greats, melding their aesthetics into an earthy and subtle statement. Right at the end, as they introduce each other, you'll realize, again, that they've both left us. Lucky for you and I both, they left us with recordings such as this. Cue it up and drift on off.