Intense, soaring heavy metal freejazz - if late Coltrane met Jimi Hendrix, or if Maha Orch played free, you'd have some idea of the soundscape of this trio I put together with drummer Dave Wayne and bassist Dave Nielsen. Loud as hell (a Marshall 1987x half stack was put to glorious use) and I loved it.

Originally recorded in 2000 and released on a label that ran into trouble soon after, I re-released it under the Norumba imprint with permission from the original label in 2003. 

The material is identical, but I redid my poor initial attempt at graphics and cover art. That repackaging may make it the only CD  ever to have as its cover art photos from its own CD release concert.

From the liner notes:

As an acoustic soloist, my work principally has explored the connections between the most free improvisation and the most traditional flamenco. While the solo work has been very rewarding, about a year ago I found myself missing the rapport, the dialogue that occurs in the group setting. I started searching for like minded comrades, and have been blessed in working with these two amazing Daves. Concurrently, I also began hearing a return to the electric guitar after a six year absence. The timbral and articulation possibilities of the electric (not to mention the painfully joyous physicality of sheer decibel impact) are very different from the flamenco instrument, and rediscovering this primal voice has been invigorating.

Still, we strive for range. Ambient/still electric pieces, both active and quiet acoustic ones are here, along with high volume excursions. Music and nature both are gifts of God's immense love, and both manifest in great diversity, from the serene to the fierce. This Trio convenes regularly in the high canyons northeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the mountains loom large and vibrant, full of ancient life and ancestral thunder. Dave Nielsen's mountain stronghold in Canoncito has been a stunning setting in which to work.

The best of that work from 2000 is documented here, recorded live and direct to CD-R, no overdubs and 100 percent improvised. There are no charts, no plans, no premeditated structures. DN mails me the two CDrs per session, and I sift for the best takes, then do a little audio polish in the studio here (it is a three hour commute each way to Canoncito from where I am). It is a relaxed, patient process - no pressure of HAVING to record , of the meter running - we convene for the love and joy of it , the strength of the chemistry, and set the machine on just in case.


This, along with Flower And Songwere well received in the press. Most of the reviews were from the original release, which explains the dates on some of them.

Available at CD Baby and iTunes.

In December 2000, my good friend Mark Weber released Flower And Song (Zerx 029), a collection of various duos, all fully improvised.

Mark Weber (writer, musician, visionary, artist, iconoclast, and the guiding force/producer behind Zerx Records)
and I had been discussing some kind of release under my aegis for a very long time. Not feeling particularly compelled to do another solo release, and Mark not particularly compelled to do a full tilt release of the  current electric projects, we were at a bit of a loss.

The initial genesis for duos was Mark remembering the John Jasnoch tapes from 97 and urging me to do something with them for his sampler release. The first of three cuts was chosen, the remaining ones to be possibly spread over future samplers. About the time I was cleaning out the incredible 50 cycle noise from the Sheffield tape ( louder than the music, courtesy of the British Yorkshire Electricity power company) I was blessed with visits in June and July from my student John Dikeman, followed by veteran improvisor Jack Wright. Rehearsals with the new trio began in late July, and there were some very good pairings within that.

Listening to it all, I realized what was taking shape. Mark gave his blessing, and so here it is.

Sifting through takes, I strove to find cuts that had the highest level of interplay, where common focus and spirit were most at hand. Dialogues and surprising simultaneities took precedence over solos (though Dikeman's opening tour-de-force on the last cut was too good to pass up and is ironically the only extended solo passage on the album). All material was 100% improvised. There were no charts, no cues, no general plans. What you hear is how it happened.

One of the principal attractions for me in performing improvised music is the telepathy, the connectivity that can occur between accomplished improvisors: the immediate call and response, the ability to find each others pitches, the simultanaeity of rhythmic gestures and phrases - all while hopefully making some compelling music - is what makes improvisation work or not.

In short,"chemistry."

The potential to reach that chemistry, that magic which makes all music "happen", is for me at its greatest in improvised music, because without standard song form, everything rests on the interplay. It is music at its most naked, stripped to essentials - it either happens or it doesn't. Whether it does here or not is for the listener to decide and enjoy and perplex over.


"Flower and Song" - In Xochitl, In Cuicatl in their native Nahuatl tongue - was the Aztec metaphor (in a language full of metaphor and dual constructs) for truth and beauty in the arts (particularly literary) , qualities which were highly revered and expected.

I don't know if I even came close to that exacting standard, but I do hope Tlaloc likes this disc.


 with:

Jack Wright, saxophones (1,2,10,11) rec 31.07.00 Norumba Studios, Clayton NM

John Jasnoch, guitar (3,4) rec 13.11.97, The Grapes, Sheffield UK

John Dikeman, tenor saxophone (5,12) rec 15.6.00, Garth Boyce building, Clayton, NM

Dave Wayne, drums (6,7,8) rec 25.7.00 (6), 08.08.00 (7,8) , Nielsen Studios, Canoncito NM

Dave Nielsen, bass (9) rec 08.08.00, Nielsen Studios, Canoncito, NM

 

1.AK'ABIL (EARLY DAWN)

A brief unfolding with Jack...

2. CIRCLE OF SKIES

Jack Wright is a veteran master improvisor
, and I hadnt seen him in years. He came to a solo concert I did in Denver in June, and we went to his house afterwards and did some brief playing. Inspired by the initial results, we arranged for him to come down here for an afternoon, where we laid down everything here (and then some...)

3. THE SERPENT MAT

4. ANOTHER QUICK ONE


The last two of a three - piece short set that John Jasnoch and I did at The Grapes in Sheffield, England while I was on a UK tour in 1997. John is a well known improvisor in the UK, Holland, and Germany. He graciously arranged this stop for me, and it was a splendid night. Fortunately someone recorded this on cassette, but the powerful and constant omnipresence of Yorkshire Electricity Company proved to be quite a challenge. 6000 miles distance and an arsenal of audio tools between Q and myself lessens their impact considerably but not completely.

5. ZAKIL AMAK'EL (LIGHT THAT LASTS)
sample

John Dikeman is an amazing talent
.

I met him while teaching at the ill-fated Young Musicians summer music camp in Wyoming in 1999 and was blown away. Already at 18 -- when this was recorded -- he had a tone, energy, and melodicism that is rare regardless of age. He came for a visit and we set up in my father-in-law's cavernous empty downtown building for three nights straight. By the third night, it was going.

I am so very proud of him -- he has gone on to do amazing things and is thriving in Amsterdam and the Dutch free jazz scene.

6.DANCE, O PRECIOUS JADE, O PRECIOUS TURQUOISE


Dave Wayne was the drummer for the new metal free jazz Trio I was developing, and in the trio sessions we did some duo moments. My then-2 year old daughter Sofia dances to everything, from Brotzmann to bulerias, and she loved this one. Using the Nahuatl metaphor for daughter, this was for her...

7. SONG FOR TWO SOFIS


A more introspective piece with Dave Wayne, whose daughter is also similarly named.

8. RAZOR HOUSE


DW and I plug in and go...

9. REMEMBRANCE


Trio bassist Dave Nielsen and I put this brief quiet piece down one night at a trio session.

10. SLEEPING IN FIRE


I convinced Jack to do one piece with me on electric, and I'm rather glad he agreed.

11. IN XOCHITL, IN CUICATL (FLOWER AND SONG)


The "title cut", so to speak... a varied and intriguing piece with Jack.

12. SING, HEART OF JOY sample

From John's visit came this joyous bit of frenzy (and the only possible way to conclude the album). Brilliant work.


Flower and Songwhich met with great reviews, is available through Zerx Records, where you get the amazing hand-stamped linoleum print cover as shown at the top of the post.It's also available as an mp3 download here.

 

In 1997 the second solo CD "Sangre Del Rio" was released on its own Norumba Records label (so - named as the label's artistic concept for releases is diametrically opposed to the Diet-flamenco-lite pop/rumba material out there). Building on the free jazz/modern classical/ early flamenco hybrid I was developing on Warning Clothed In Bright Robes Of Dawn, this CD took it in a more flamenco direction.

Both CDs were well acclaimed in the press.


ANGELS (w/Courtney Smith, harp)
an improvised duo with the stunning improvising harpist Courtney Smith, recorded in an idle moment while waiting for violist Alicia Ultan to arrive for a session. the three of us collectively had a short-lived improvising chamber trio called Trio Palladium.

RIO DE ESPIRITU
One of the more loosely structured pieces, this spacious, contemplative piece centers around the tonal center por granainas.

VIENTO ROJO
This modern-voiced soleá is framed by opening and closing free improvisations.

HOMENAJE A JOE MANERI a brief completely free improvisation, dedicated to my brilliant teacher back in Boston.

SANDS, MOUNTAINS EMBRACED, BREATHING RIVERS FOLDED LIGHT

A large scale piece, originally written and premiered for my performance in 1994 at Berlin's Total Music Meeting. In the tarantas key.

CAJULEU
A bulerias, with dark edges.

SANGRE DEL RIO
Another large piece, based on seguiriyas.

HIJO
A gentle melody, for sons and fathers everywhere, and the love, lessons, and inspirations they give each other. Por mineras.

It is available at Guitar Nine Records.