back to coltrane, to one of his mentors, yusef lateef, and other threads – harp jazz composer, dorothy ashby, and alice in wonderland

just imagine what else was going on in the US during these specific years… the 60s only grows gigantically as the world descends into rack and ruin at the hands of the power elite… why, really, would musicians, particularly black musicians, turn to the east at this historical moment… and to which ‘east’? the north african east of course… but also to the ‘far’ and/or, ‘south’ asian ‘east’. given coltraine’s edification at the hands of lateef, where else could he have gone but to interstellar…

perhaps one of the most beautiful and compositionally radical jazz albums ever recorded:

reminder: see lateef’s book that is fundamental reading for all serious jazz musicians:

Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns

all that jazz, and then there is dorothy ashby and jazz harp.


orothy Ashby, was an American jazz harpist and composer. Hailed as one of the most “unjustly under loved jazz greats of the 1950’s” and the “most accomplished modern jazz harpist,” Ashby established the harp as an improvising jazz instrument, beyond earlier use as a novelty or background orchestral instrument, proving the harp could play bebop as adeptly as the instruments commonly associated with jazz, such as the saxophone or piano.


and… just listen to the drummer: drum&base precursor, no? on some pieces, elsewhere the percussion is latin… as is the overall feeling.


and alice of course!

back to coltrane, to one of his mentors, yusef lateef, and other threads – harp jazz composer, dorothy ashby, and alice in wonderland

georges aperghis, parcours 1-4 in sequence, for the record, and bernie lubell’s wooden neurotic machines

because there is no guarantee this will be available, or, findable, on the net… in the near future. it’s already difficult to find… one of the 20th centuries all time great works, aperghis’ parcours, in my humble opinion. but before proceeding to listening/watching, to aperghis, i want to alert you to the related, unclassifiable art of bernie lubell who makes psychologically mad interactive/participatory machines, often of very large scale, out of wood.


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but to apherghis: and don’t miss the last piece below… which i rate in the top 5… of any work at all, according to any scale, in any universe.

and as an addendum, a cover or sorts… necessary in order to cover the brilliance of the cover that follows.

after talking today with karen schiff, i got to thinking about zen… see her brilliant work/thought at:

and in with continual dialogue with gerrie van noord about walking, philosophy, music and most things, of late, about the significance of ‘covers’:

to preface my comments that follow: i have studied various forms of Zen, and have a great love/respect for certain aspects of it. but like christianity, and any organized from of religion, ultimately it’s nihilistic because it’s about self-denial, denial of being an embodied human animal, giving over human fate to mythological, metaphysical forms of social control… etc. i’ve been to japan, to many of the zen and other buddhist temples there, and it’s impossible not to love them, aesthetically. and the concept of rejection of some aspects of ‘worldliness’, is spot on, mainly today’s hyper-consumerist capitalism. but it goes too far.

cover 2: the sound is not as good as it might be, but, no matter… one of my all time fav works. there are several threads to consider here – the use of silence in a very non-cagean way, non-cagean because of the musicians’ powerful use of gesture to frame it; the implication is that silence and stillness are incompatible; precisely because artists, like apherghis of course, understood that ‘musical’ silence is inseparable from time because music is perhaps culture’s most sophisticated exploration of time; so if time is eliminated by stillness, and reduced to a continuous duration as it was in 4′ 33″, so music is eliminated; continuous duration, and this was cage’s zen intent, is nihilistic in it’s elimination of temporal differentia and the elimination of the corporal activity of the performer, of humans as embodied animals, in favor of purely passive listening that is suppose to reveal the extra-human world of sound/noise through self-denial; which in effect is the elimination of interaction and relationality; here time is wonderfully visualized by the use of silent gestures, a far more interactive and relational conception of spacetime, the inseparability of space and time, suggesting that action, acting, performing, and event are the essence not only of music, but of being an embodied human animal that is essentially co-relational and interactive with and in the world framed inextricably by spacetime; more, music is an ‘investigative, experimental method/tool’ through which, at it’s best, the human animal explores its participatory possibilities as it navigates spacetime. 4’33” denies that form of participatory investigation of it’s spacetime world reducing the performer and the audience to a passive listening device. it’s nihilistic because it annihilates music. to passively accept a world of pure noise is to abandon active participation in transforming our being-in-the-world. and that is what buddhism, including zen, seeks to achieve – stopping thought, abandoning our creative engagement with all that is extra-human, denying subjectivity out right, rather than transforming and expanding the parameters of ‘subjectivity’ beyond the prison house of language and it’s sentences. The George Aperghis-Dressage Percussion group, in this piece, make silence haptic; they insist on several form of performative imbrication – of their corporeal embedded in spacetime, within their specific method-tools, the carefully differentiated instrumentality of drum their sets, performing with a remarkably sensitive co-relationality and choreographed interactivity, creating a highly differentiated unity of their performative event. this fabulous trio fully embrace everything that cage denied.

georges aperghis, parcours 1-4 in sequence, for the record, and bernie lubell’s wooden neurotic machines

musical up/post date for noah 4: a break in the flow: a very few odd moments that i love: unsequential and jarring even… but still in the territory of coltraine and stephon alexander and einstein


updated brilliantly, by christian bok…

Georges Aperghis

and well, to cut to a very different/similar register

Supaman, born Christian Parrish Takes the Gun, is an Apsáalooke Native American from the Crow Nation Reservation near Billings, Montana. In 2014, he was Artist of the Week on MTV, and he’s unique. He rhymes about some of the same issues better-known African-American rappers do, but there is an added element of reservation life. His parents were alcoholics, and he was a foster child until he went to live with his grandfather. Reservation life provided too much idle time and too much poverty, and no good came of it. He was involved with crime and drugs. Takes the Gun says hip-hop – in its more negative aspects – influenced him to play the part of a gangster.

But in his early 20s, Takes the Gun realized this was not the way he wanted to live – and concluded that his music sent the wrong message to his fellow Native young people. So he changed course. After a record deal with a Seattle label saw him leaving his wife and child behind and living a rapper’s lifestyle, Supaman found religion and returned home to Montana, embracing his ancestral traditions and cultural mores. Today, he’s an educator and performer, and one of the best-known Native hip-hop acts.

under the cover of pearodox-provocateur, i must add these, as counter examples of what’s NOT politically effective, as supaman’s work above is. in line with Zappa’s critique of ID politics.

musical up/post date for noah 4: a break in the flow: a very few odd moments that i love: unsequential and jarring even… but still in the territory of coltraine and stephon alexander and einstein

musical influences for noah, part 3 – the zappa thread

it’s a fair comparison to suggest that the zappa/beefheart relationship is similar to  the cave/ellis one, though not as sustained. he’s been often much misunderstood. in part because he didn’t conform to the rock&roll paradigm of his day, and, because in that political climate, his irony and satire and parody of the political obsessions then current, particularly, ‘identity politics’, did not for obvious reasons, go over very well. it wouldn’t be until the early 2000’s when his critique of identity politics would be renewed by some of its original proponents – stuart hall, gayatri spivak, paul gilroy, etc. [see gilroy’s defense of hiphop musican, snoopdog] yet, he was taken completely seriously by some of the great 20th century composers of his day, like pierre boulez. he resisted the ‘purity’ of the avant-garde, politically and aesthetically, yet, combined both of those threads. his sometimes sexual crassness cannot be understood independently of irony/parody/satire/, and it should never be taken as literally meant. all of his own bands were incredibly ‘diverse’, and he never presented himself as a great maestro, but always featured his co-musicians as exactly that, co-musicians. during performances, he often took a backseat. that was a political position he strongly represented. see ‘porn wars’ below, where he testifies before congress, questioned by the likes of al gore… and if i remember correctly, jessie helms… and remember back to his piece, ‘it can’t happen here’, which while being an obvious reference to the rise of nazism, also, and therefore, foreshadowed T-rump and co…

[note: unlike most musician of his day, zappa eschewed drugs and alcohol]

what’s interesting about this recording, again, is the not only the visual video/tv synthesizing, and the date of the performance, but i’m pretty sure the ‘german tv’ is the famous avant-garde station, that is called something like, radiofunke, that’s not it… but the same station where vanderbeek/cunningham/cage performed Variations V in 1965.

a very famous piece called King Kong – resonate with a 40/60’s black jazz musician, eric dolphy know for his dissonant sax playing… he died tragically  in paris because a french hospital refused to treat him because he was black… but the beefheart connection is also present. though beefheart is more radically ‘poetic’, more pure poetry concret, more dada, than zappa, who is more narrative. well, i might be wrong… zappa has his own poetry concret/dada side also.

another of my deep influences: jean-luc ponty, radical electrified violinist, ‘covering’ zappa’s king kong. this, along with mclaughlin, oregon, tyner, etc, is what i was mostly listening to between the ages of 15-18… along with the blues of muddy guy, john mayhall, james cotton, john-lee hooker, and the like, t-rex… i’m a big harmonica fan. thus the shift to riley was inevitable.

couldn’t decide which to include, so i’m including both… a bit of repetition can’t hurt, no?

and…. a bit of history, live…

pierre boulez, the well known avant-garde classical composer and conductor, was a zappa fan, and performed several of Z’s pieces, including king kong, i think, but i can’t find it. boulez was the first director of the experimental music component of pompidou centre in paris, and he and cage carried on a very contentious correspondence, in which they vehementtly disagreed about the direction of contemporary classical music. which i’ve read and is fascinating. i tend to agree with cage… which is surprising since i’m pretty critical of cage generally… cage would never have covered zappa…. and then there is the collab between the who and riley…

the following is a very short zappa piece about boulez…

i was very lucky to see cotton and mayhall in waterville maine when i was in high school. where i also saw dick gregory the comedian and some then well known beat poets like ferlengetti who founded city lights bookstore in SF… the advantage of living in a well know liberal arts university town…

and this, well… it came up randomly, but fits…subversion in the moment… spontaneity… the extraordinary hubris and clamor of the times… the importance of raucous, experimentalism, and paradigms of music that never really do fit the genre paradigms… because ‘translation’ is, it seems, a deep cultural need… cover to cover, or, covers to covers… such an important aspect of music – the ‘cover’…. the authorial issue?

and well, hendrix is another big influence of course…

and well, no reflection on Z would be complete without at least a nod to his guitar prowess…

Z’s following guitar performance should NOT ONLY be compared to other rock&roll greats, but equally to coltraine’s ‘extreme’ experimentalism and other threads in 20th C classical experimentalism. as well as to Dada… of the second 20th century… the performative/theatrical response to WWI… meant to break down all your expectations in the face of the dominant Spectacle of ad-man driven modernity…

musical influences for noah, part 3 – the zappa thread

musical influences for noah, part 2

as with any time period dominated by a particular cultural paradigm, in the midst of the 60s and 70s when rock&roll was hegemonic musically, there were other subterranean coeval rivers.  szabor was not least among them.

nor was ralph towner and company [this was what i once heard when i was 16 at colby college back in 1973, in a very small, intimate auditorium, and afterwards, i went up and talked to the band members, having no clue as to who they were… the next year, while still in high school, i enrolled in courses at colby, in ‘cultural eugenics with professor gustav todrank, even… a professor of religion turned aestheist! we became life long friends and he lent me his house in the famed seaside maine village of kennebunkport to get married in when i was 22…  noah attended, aged 4 months]

interesting how the album covers are so deeply memorable…

and with, right, paul winter: note the english and french horns… baroque jazz.. with tablas… way before kronos…

note: Paul Winter has made music in the Grand Canyon, dueted with a wolf in Minnesota, and seen his songs taken to the moon by the Apollo astronauts, who named two craters after his songs.

skip to 6.15 mins in: such a time cut… yet not at all… not the 6.15 jump, but that between the 70s and this in 2014… irish, baroque jazz fusion , whales, riley and beyond… i first heard winter with towner, playing whale sounds in bath maine in 1974 or 75. 🙂 if this isn’t ‘conceptual sonic art’, i don’t know what is. human-animal collaboration… no wonder i went to study with haraway…

okay, it was in fact painful, so i’ve deleted it…

and then there is the inimitable jon ambercrombie, who sometimes played with towner

structure vs lyricism… ser y estar

yeah, the list of the forgotten goes on and on….

this particular jag wouldn’t be complete, and it could never be complete, as an excavation of my own musical unconscious, but in with these cats, unless i added something by larry coryell… the parallel track of blues/funk/etc will have to wait, and i’m sure you’re happy about that… you’ve had to bear a bit of that. but just a bit…

coryell was then, still is as far as i know, considered one of the greatest guitarists every…

right, more and more and…

well, who else but stanley clark… interesting how most of the music in this post hovers around 1974… in that year, i had won awards for my prowess in advanced biology… been kicked off the ski team because it was discovered i had smoked pot, i admitted that my very long hair then, was indeed a statement… but i had at my back all my teachers who were then themselves at least half hippy… or, aspiring…

in retrospect, it may have been clarke’s album that infiltrated my brain most… i have always want to learn to play the base… 🙂

musical influences for noah, part 2

musical influences for noah, part 1

i was a wee lad when i first heard this around 1974 or so. still in high school. it was then that shifted from rock to jazz, that, and the other momentus musical moment for me, was hear the band, oregon, with ralf towner. and john mclaughlin, among a few others, formed my musical imaginary. these 3 albums in particular. i should be embarrassed by the new ageism, but i’m definitely NOT. it hasn’t effected my conversion to atheism… 🙂

i was there…. sort of. long story. in 1972 i was 15, one of the few high school age pot heads in Maine…. or anywhere probably, and part of a hippie exodus from the haight ashbury who happened to ‘drop out’ in my home town of waterville…. as i said, long story… i was a vegetarian buddhist in those days…. at 15… interesting to re-listen to this. i still love it.

right, then there was john mclaughlin’s mahavishnu orchestra, acid jazz, also 1972..

yeah, so it was all down hill from there…

but… i also heard james cotton…. in waterville maine… not to mention dick gregory, but that’s another track entirely…  🙂

musical influences for noah, part 1

contraine, intersteller, and einstein

Recorded in the year of his death, Interstellar Space—a frenetic suite of free jazz duets with drummer Rashied Ali—didn’t appear until 1974. The album has since received widespread critical acclaim, and stands, Graham argues, as “Coltrane’s most influential record, its echoes still heard today in everything from electronic music to some of the world’s biggest hip hop acts.”

Should we pursue this line of thinking, however, we might have to grant that the posthumous Interstellar Space and its follow-up Stellar Regions—compiled from tapes Alice Coltrane discovered in 1994—are the result of Coltrane’s final musical apotheosis and thus can sound nigh-incomprehensible to most mere mortals. Interstellar Space “is a musicians’ album, for sure,” Graham admits, and an album for those fully open to the unknown: “the dissonance and enharmonic experimentation… is otherworldly.”

John Coltrane Draws a Mysterious Diagram Illustrating the Mathematical & Mystical Qualities of Music

On the other side of the epistemological spectrum, we have physicist and sax player Stephon Alexander, who writes in his book The Jazz of Physics that “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s theory was reflected in Coltrane’s diagram.” Likewise, saxophonist Roel Hollander sees in the tone circle a number of mathematical principles. But, remaining true to Coltrane’s synthesis of spirituality and science, he also reads its geometry according to sacred symbolism.

The circle contains Coltrane’s musical experiments, yet cannot be explained by them; it hints at theoretical physics and the geometry of musical composition, while also making heavy allusion to mystical and religious symbolism. The musical relationships it constructs seem evident to those with a firm grasp of theory; yet its strange intricacies may be puzzled over forever. “Coltrane’s circle,” writes Faena Aleph, is a “mandala,” expressing “precisely what is, at once, both paradoxical and obvious.” Ultimately, Mwamba concludes in his series on the diagram, “it isn’t possible to say that Coltrane used the diagram at all; but exploring it in relation to what he was saying at the time has led to more understanding and appreciation of his music and life.”

The circle, that is, works like a key with which we might unlock some of the mysteries of Coltrane’s later compositions. But we may never fully grasp its true nature and purpose. Whatever they were, Coltrane never said. But he did believe, as he tells Frank Kofsky in the 1966 interview above, in music’s ability to contain all things, spiritual, physical, and otherwise. “Music,” he says, “being an expression of the human heart, or of the human being itself, does express just what is happening. The whole of human experience at that particular time is being expressed.”

for a possible interpretation of coltraine’s diagram, see: stephon alexander – the physics of jazz
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animation by michael levy, Giant Steps


contraine, intersteller, and einstein