Melanie Charles and Fresh Cut Orchestra re-envision ‘We Insist!’

There are moments when life presents us with musical experiences that warrant braving the wet and cold and sitting in a room of strangers (or future friends as I like to think of it).  As for myself, moments like this can be few and far between.  Stumbling on the listing of a band getting set to perform the 1960 masterpiece ‘We insist!’ by Max Roach brought back memories of attending a concert in what was then a new town to me in that of Raleigh, the year of 1990.  At the time, I had just moved to Raleigh to attend NC State. The week I moved there was a record show at the Daniel Boone Village in Hillborough. I had frequented the record shows for the past year or two and went to a booth of two folks I new as aquaintances. When I picked up a couple of James Blood Ulmer records from their booth they informed me Mr. Ulmer would be perfoming later that night in Durham. I went to the concert and it spoke to me on so many levels. As an alum of Ornette Coleman’s band, his music had a certain appeal and I actually had only one record by him at the time. So, then I was on the verge of discovery.

Fast forward nearly 30 years, I found myself again in a fairly new town to me and while internet has certainly makes finding concerts much easier, you still need to look for them. With this in mind I stumbled across a concert slated for February 23rd 2019 that seemed like it could’ve just as easily not been discovered by me.  An interpretation of one of the best jazz records of its time, ‘We Insist!’ is replete with stellar musicians, song writing and politics of race and desegregation.

For me, going to see a great jazz show is equally as exciting as most people might find their favorite modern concert to be. It can be more thrilling than walking into a hip hop or rock experience to know someone or some jazz group is who’s talented and going to deliver. What’s more, this particular concert featured music written by one of North Carolina’s most heralded jazz musicians along with singer Oscar Brown Jr. Undoubtedly this band is one capable to deliver such a crisp and fiery show.


It can be more thrilling than walking into a hip hop or rock experience to know of someone or some jazz group who’s is talented and going to deliver.

Much like the aforementioned Mr. Ulmer moves me on several levels, so does the music of Max Roach, albeit differently. Max Roach had the jazz life of a legendary status, performing with Mingus, Parker and Ellington as well as transitioning to contemporary jazz artists such as Anthony Braxton and Cecil Taylor. ‘We insist!’ is ground breaking in that it shares a social commentary on the year 1960 in a way others had thought art perhaps might better play it safe and avoid.  Unlike modern social media explorations, Roach, along with his wife Abbey Lincoln, Coleman Hawkins and Booker Little made commentary that is rare in that it had no need to research it’s user or track data to find out more about us, it was and is a form of art that mirrored life of that moment.


Brooklyn based singer/flutist Melanie Charles released two recordings, one self released in 2010 as well as her 2017 recording ‘The Girl With the Green Shoes’. She has alsorecorded with brittish virtual progers Gorillaz. New York-Philadelphia based Fresh Cut Orchestra are led by Josh Lawrence on Trumpet, Jason Fraticelli on bass and Anwar Marshall on drums. Commissioned by Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, the group transcribed the music by listening to the original recording. Support was provided by UNC Asheville, NC Arts Council and Come Hear North Carolina. Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is a wonderful music venue. In addition to bringing life to the college that existed nearly 30 minutes from Asheville from 1933-1957, Ms Charles and the Fresh Cut Orchestrea added their own perspectives as guitarist Tim Conley added treatments and samples to create a new interpretation. On the final song of the album Tears for Johannesburg a serious interplay took place between the samples Conley treated as the call and Marshall then interpreted on drums.

Top 30 albums of 2018

1 Eric Copeland Trogg Modal Vol. 1 DFA Records

2. Idris Akamoor & the Pyramids An Angel Fell Strut Records

3. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 Black Times Strut Records

4. Rene Lussier Quintette S/T Circum-disc

5. John McLaughlin and Jimmy Herring Live in San Francisco Abstract Logix Records

6. Fred Frith & Hardy Fox A Day Hanging Dead Between Heaven and Earth Klanggalerie Records

7. Kikagaku Moyo Masana Temples Guru Guru Brain Records

8. Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer Wonderland Records

9. Shannon & the Clams Onion Hardly Art Records

10. August Greene S/T August Greene Records

11. Del & Amplive Gate 13 Gate 13 Records

12. Lee Scratch Perry The Black Album Upsetter Records

13. Yoshimi O. Susie Ibara, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe Flower of Sulfur Thrill Jockey Records

14. The Thing Again Trost Records

15. Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth Young Turks Records

16. Mabuta Welcome to This World Inpartmaint Records

17. Ben Hall’s Racehorse Names The New Thing’s Called Breathing Relative Pictch Records

18. Exek Ahead of Two Thoughts Superior Viaduct Records

19. The Necks Body Northern Spy Records

20. Body/Head The Switch Matador Records

21. Orchestra of Spheres Mirror Fire Records

22. Bill Orcut Chris Corsano Brace Up Palilalia Records

23. Marc Ribot Songs of Resistance ANTI Records

24. Amado, McPhee, Kessler, Corsano History of Nothing Trost Records

25. Rasmussen/ Dorji S/T Feeding Tube Records

26. Leandre Harnik Tender Music Trost Records

27. Manna Mirage Rest of the World Newhouse Music

28. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris Everything’s Fine Mello Music Group

29. Jump for Joy Keeping Score Occasional Records

39. Parliament Medicare Fraud Dog C Kunspyruhzy Records Inc.

Japanese Psychedelic group perform at the Mothlight 10/20/18

Asheville, NC welcomed Tokyo based Kikagaku Moyo on Saturday 10/20/18 to a sold out crowd. The group is touring North America in support of their 4th full length release Masana Temples on the Dutch label Guru Guru Brain. The group carries the flame that has been carried by the likes of Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. Fushitsusha, Ghost, Zeni Geva and Speed, Glue and Shinki. The aforementioned bands are guitar driven and the addition of the Sitar in Kikagaku Moyo harkens back to songs like ‘Ziggy Sitar Dust Mantra‘ by Acid Mother’s Temple from 2003.

Kikagaku Moyo performing live at the Mothlight 10/20/18

The most recent record, Masana Temples, released this year is a follow up to last year’s brilliant Stone Garden, also released by Guru Guru Brain. The group was formed in 2012 by guitarist Tomouki Katsurada (also known as Zura) and drummer Go Kurosawa. The group also contains sitar player Ryu Kurosawa, guitarist Daoul Popal and bass player Kotsuguy. The group is on their 2nd tour of the US. Don’t miss this opportunity to see an emerging group with something to say.

Japanese psychedelic band Kikagaku Moyo

Originally formed in 2012, from a duo that would busk the streets of Tokyo, they added the other members prior to recording their initial self titled release, which featured singer/ theramin player Angie Gotopo. The band members were involved in the creation of Guru Guru Brain records. In addition to the six full length and e.p. recordings the group has released in their 6 years together they also put out a split 7″s with Moon Duo and Kinski with Mokoto Kawabata from the aforementioned Acid Mother’s Temple & Melting Paraiso U.F.O.

2018 release Masana Temples by Kikagaku Moyo

Strangeblood Radio lauched 8/25/2018

http://strangebloodradio.playtheradio.com/

I’ve been spending alot of time lately thinking about sharing music in a way I never have and so the radio station Strangeblood Radio was included in the Radionomy lineup.  It’s my hope that many of the US and international artists I’ve followed over the years get introduced to new audiences. I hope you will take the time to stop by from time to time. The starting format will be to release 4 hour shows weekly. You will be able to hear repeats during the week from last week’s show (among others).  Get some!

Strangeblood Radio Website

Roaratorio brings an Irish Circus to the music

A small batch record company from Minneapolis has been quietly making its mark on the creative new musical world for 18 years. Founded by James Lindbloom, the label draws its name from a musical piece by late composer John Cage by the same name. The composition by Cage sought to bring literature (Namely that of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake) to performance. The record label has released 46 recordings to date featuring Sun Ra, Joe McPhee, Steve Lacy, Pauline Oliveros and Daniel Carter to name a few.

James Lindbloom and the late Pauline Oliveros

According to Lindbloom, most of the label’s releases are limited to around 500 copies while the titles for Sun Ra and a few other titles had as many as 1000 to 1500 copies. To date, Roaratorio has released 3 recordings by late accordionist Pauline Oliveros, who developed the musical vocabulary referred to as Deep Listening and taught at UCSD and Mills College.  The most recent release featuring Oliveros was as a member of the Thollem Cline trio, entitled Molecular Affinity. Thollem/Cline trio is conceptually like drummer Samm Bennett and late Cellist Tom Cora’s band Third Person, a “trio” that included the third artist as a guest in performances.  Pianist Thollem McDonas and Guitarist Nels Cline’s (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers) previous collaborations as a trio include the Gowanus Session featuring William Parker on Bass and Radical Empathy featuring Michael Wimberly on drums.

On Roaratorio, Oliveros can be heard with Argentinian electronic group Reynols on the 2003 release, The Minexcio Connection: Live at the Rosendale Cafe and on her 2011 release To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe In Recognition of their Desperation.  The latter contains 3 recordings from 1970 and 1977 with a large ensemble.

Cover art for Molecular Affinity includes Coleochaete green algae, by Fernán Federici

Released one month after Ms. Oliveros passing, Molecular Affinity contains two improvised compositions, each approximately 19 minutes in length. Each of the pieces are works showcasing the trio’s breadth of talents, with all 3 musicians drawing both distinction and commonality. Oliveros can make her instument sound electronic as it entwines with piano and electronic effects, including guitar and dobro making the giving the recording the feeling of a soundtrack. The recording has moments sounding like a work out of time, Molecular Affinity also has an air reminscent of recordings from contemporary composers on the Nonesuch record label back in it’s heyday of the late sixties and seventies. For fans of Oliveros or improvised music in general this recording isn’t to be missed. LP/Digital copies of Molecular Affinity are available individually from Roaratorio Records. The 3 Thollem/Cline trio recordings were also released this year as part of a digital only format compilation earlier in 2018.

Argentenian Composer Nelson Gastaldi recorded cassette symphonies

Argentenian composer Nelson Gastaldi (1932-2009) has what is known to be a treasure trove of recordings, however to date Symphony #3: Siddhartha Gautama O El Poder De La Nada is the only recording to be officially released. The recording was discussed on the podcast #37 for Free Form Freakout. Interestingly, in the podcast, Lindbloom discusses how he did “these home recordings, symphonies as he called them–, were made through a crude overdubbing setup– He would record them on a boom box, play them back on a separate deck while recording another layer of the piece, then play back the new cassette while playing along to it once again, and so on until the piece was complete.” It’s really surprising to imagine someone merging musical expression and composition in such a manner and having a result that is so indescribable. The recording was composed and recorded between 1972 and 1997. This is an essential recording for collectors of contemporary electronic composition.

“A” Trio Live at Nickelsdorf album cover

Another direction of musical exploration on Roaratorio is Lebanese based The A Trio, who have a number of recordings including a 2018 release with the UK based renowned experimental band AMM. Their music is fairly indescribable as on listens to the 40+ minute improvisation and would likely have difficulty in knowing what instruments were being played (without looking at the cover). The group has also collaborated with Alan Bishop from the Sun City Girls on their 2015 recording Burj Al Imam. Trumpet player Mazen Kerbaj utilizes his instrument not for melodic means, but instead at times it sounds like a new form of sound has been created, in a way like the first time one hears Tuvan throat singing and ponders that it really is vocals. Their style on Live at Nickelsdorf can be at times percussive, sounding like springs and whirligigs bouncing with a motor puttering along while high pitches overtake the moment sounding like a violin bow is being used on a cymbal.

Roaratorio is much more than the label that releases vinyl artifacts by Sun Ra and Joe McPhee’s awesomeness. But, don’t forget that they’re that too. Lindbloom has created one of the strongest labels in existence today and if you haven’t already done so,  you should challenge your ears to check a few of their releases out.

Jeb Bishop and Dan Ruccia perform at Revolve Studios

Jeb Bishop and Dan Ruccia performing at Revolve Studios in Asheville, NC

Trombonist Jeb Bishop and Violist Dan Ruccia recently teamed up on a tour through the mid Atlantic states of the US to perform music from their 2017 release Scratch Slice Jag released on Out and Gone records. Bishop grew up in Raleigh, NC where he was involved in the punk rock band Stillborn Christians and the Alternative band Angels of Epsitemology. After moving to Chicago Bishop became a regular in Ken Vandermark’s bands as well as performed with Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann’s Tentet, Alexander von Schippenbach’s Globe Unity Orchestra and many other crucial members of the creative new music world. Ruccia hails from Durham and has recorded many of his own compositions, in addition to being at DJ at Duke University’s WXDU radio station in his spare time.

The two artists recently performed at the Revolve Sound Series in Asheville. They met when Bishop was living in the triangle a few years ago. Although Bishop has since moved to Boston, Massachusetts, both he and Ruccia colaborated on Scratch Slice Jag and the album was released to critical acclaim from the Free Jazz blog.

Shane Parish and Tashi Dorji at Revolve Studios 6/29/2018

Asheville based guitarists Shane Parish and Tashi Dorji performed an opening set of improvised music then later joined Bishop and Ruccia for an improvised quartet performance to close the evening. Parish is a member in both Aleuchatistas and Dirge Duo as well as a collaborator with many artists. Dorji has performed with a number of musicians highly regarded in the improvised music realm including Sir Richard Bishop, Tyler Damon, Bill Orcutt, Joe McPhee and Mette Rasmussen. Dorji has recently released a duo record with Rasmussen on the Montreal based label Feeding Tube records. Parish and Dorji have released a recording together as well in 2016 on the MIE label entitled ExpectingIn their duo Parish sounds at times like crafty guitarist Robert Fripp while Dorji shreds in a style similar to that of Fred Frith. The duos and quartet performances were both enjoyable but the duos were clearly the most coherent and strongest moments of the night.

Fantastic Negrito returns to Asheville

Fresh off of his 2017 Grammy for best contemporary blues album, Fantastic Negrito performed at the popular free concert series ‘Downtown after Five’ on Friday, July 20th. It marked the first time the Oakland based artist had performed in the Old North State since performing at L.E.A.F. in 2017. FN’s lyrics are often political tales of a gritty world where we struggle and are often duped by our consumer society. It’s easy to hear the influence of classic blues artists such as Leadbelly in his songs such as the chant in Lost in a crowd.  In last Friday’s concert FN performed his interpretation of Leadbelly’s Where did you sleep last night? The song was renamed In the Pines and has different lyrics created by the artist. It appears on the award winning ‘Last Days of Oakland’ recording.

Oakland based blues artist Fantastic Negrito performed in Asheville on July 20th, 2018

Oakland based blues artist Fantastic Negrito performed in Asheville on July 20th, 2018

 

As an artist, Fantastic Negrito has certainly experienced his shares of ups and downs over the years. After disappearing into obscurity for nearly 20 years he won a contest and received the opportunity to perform on the program gaining wider recognition on a national scale. Making the most of the opportunity FN has now relelased his third record in six years and has cemented a new, soulful woke af blues.

 

in Asheville, NC

Downtown after 5 occurs every third Friday on Lexington from May- September in Asheville, NC

The newest record, released on June 15th of this year is titled ‘Please don’t be dead’ is a self released album on Blackball Universe. Songs performed from the new release on Friday included Plastic Hamburgers. Bullshit Anthem, Bad Guy Necessity and the Duffler. This is the 30th anniversary of the festival that occurs each third Friday from May through September on Lexington. Asheville’s The Get Right Band were openers.  Upcoming performers include Memphis based Southern Avenue on August 18th and legendary West Coast Hip hop group The Pharcyde on September 21st.  See you there.

Fantastic Negrito performing at Downtown after Five

Fantastic Negrito performing at Downtown after Five

Shannon and the Clams in Asheville

Shannon and the Clams in Asheville

Shannon Shaw and her Clams brought their sound that combines punk and 50’s doo wop to the Grey Eagle nightclub in Asheville last Saturday . Fresh off the heals of a solo release by Ms. Shaw and the group’s wonderful Onion record the group continues to build a cult following and draws large audiences dancing to their driving tempo. Shaw and Cody Blanchard are the main songwriters for the Oakland based quartet. Onion contains songs written for the victims of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, Ca. The Ghost Ship was a concert venue and performance space where tragedy struck on December 2nd of 2016, when thirty six artists lost their lives in a warehouse fire. Don’t close your eyes is a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to those lost from the incident in the band’s East Bay home town.

the Clams at the Grey Eagle  7/21/2018

Shannon & the Clams at the Grey Eagle 7/21/2018

Both Onion and Shaw’s solo effort were released on Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound record label. The albums were produced by the frontman for the Black Keys as well. The group previously recorded for the Sup Pop subsidiary label Hardly Art and the 1-2-3-4Go! label from the Oakland based record store of the same name.

Cody Blanchard and Shannon Shaw

Cody Blanchard and Shannon Shaw of Shannon & the Clams

The quartet also included drummer Nate Mahan and keyboardist Will Sprott. The concert began and closed with songs from the new album The Boy and Did you love me? Also on the set list was the title track to Onion as well as some of their most loved songs including Sleep Talk, Ozma, Rat House and Oh Louie. Shannon and the Clams were great and are a must see for fans of Leslie Gore ala the movie Hairspray. Charlotte based Paint Fumes and Asheville’s The Nude Party opened.

The quartet performed songs from the new album Onion

The quartet performed songs from the new album Onion

Top 30 records of 2017

RT

Royal Trux Platinum Tips + Ice Cream DC647


1Royal TruxPlatinum Tips and Ice CreamDrag City

2Moon MenAmazing Science Fiction StoriesHand made Products

3Roscoe MitchellBells for the South SideECM

4Damaged BugBunker FunkCastle Face

5Kendrick LamarDamnTop Dawg Entertainment

6Toro y MoiBoo BooCarpark Records

7Roger WatersIs this the life we really want?Columbia

8FredFrith Hans KochYou Are HereIntakt

9Satoko FujiiAspirationLibra records

10MastaDoomDblMaskMasta DblG

11Kikagaku MoyoStone GardenGuruguru Brain

12The PeacersIntroducing the Crimson MenDrag City

13Thee Oh SeesOrcCastle Face

14Rhiannon GiddensFreedom HighwayNonesuch

15Matt MitchellFictionPi records

16Intergalactic LoversExhaleUnday Records/Verycords

17Dirty SongsPlay Dirty SongsAudika

18New Cicada TrioLive in BeaconTerra Nova Music

19Oiseaux-Tempête-AL-‘AN!-Sub Rosa

20Joe McPhee, Damon Smith, Alvin FielderSix SituationsNot Two Records

21DiratzDiratz

22King Ayisoba1000 can dieGlitterbeat

23faUSTFresh AirBureau B

24Louis SclavisFrontieresJMS

25The Entrance BandBook of ChangesThrill Jockey

26Pere Ubu20 years in a Montana missile siloCherry Red

27Bruce RussellMetallic OkGlass Redux

28Godspeed You! Black EmperorLuciferian TowersConstellation

29G. YamazawaShouts to DurhamYamazawa/Othaz

30ThundercatDrunkBrainfeeder