Thursday, October 29, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - October 28/09

Over at Eye Weekly, I've written a feature about the totally original musical life force that is David Amram. He's still going strong more than five decades into a career which delves deeply into jazz, European classical, First Nations music, Cuban rhythms and all sorts of Asian influences. No doubt all of these musical interests will be on display during his guaranteed-to-be-anarchic performance at Toronto's Revival club this coming Tuesday (November 3).

I spent an hour on the phone with him. Asking him a question is like looking at a comet: he starts his answer from millions of miles beyond this planet, but as he zooms in, you can see it’s going to be brilliant. Then he loops back around for another tangential approach.

For someone on the cusp of eighty (the title of his next book is "David Amram: The First 80 Years"), he's super-sharp, perceptive and most of all incredibly enthusiastic about music. Reading the article, one might think that he is too much of an idealist to be believed, but damn, it comes from his unique life experience and we should all be so lucky at that age.

I got this album, a document of the US-Cuban rapprochement of 1977, a few years ago from my aunt. Killer Latin jazz of some complexity dominates the recording - just look at those players, they're up to the challenge. My fave track remains Broadway Reunion, which I played this week. It's a live recording of Amram's flutes alongside the legendary Los Papines drumming group captured live on Broadway (literally).

He's bound to bring that vibe to Revival; the one time I saw him live, he captivated with his mix of Rahsaan Roland Kirk-like free musical association and rambling storytelling style. Don't miss this gig.

bumble rumble - han bennink (atavistic)
new york - franck vigroux (d'autres cordes)
ochlophobie - galerie stratique (archipel)
people's republic - gold sparkle trio feat ken vandermark (squealer)
paper thin - viviane houle/coat cooke (drip audio)
slinger - muskox (standard form)
shromis simghera - darbazi (no label)
algodao - quarteto novo (odeon)
barely breaking even - universal robot band rmx by john morales (bbe)
broadway reunion - david amram (flying fish)
mario - franco & tpok jazz (rough guides)
elsa - sonido martines feat fefe (soot)
desacarga tiburona - los tiburones (tropical)
francophonie - canaille (standard form)
dock boggs - canaille (standard form)
sabotage - carlton patterson & king tubby (hot pot)

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - October 21/09

This week I got a wonderful anthology of the music of groundbreaking mambologist Tito Rodriguez accompanied by a press release that said the Fania catalog has changed hands once again, this time to a company called Codigo (can't find a link, hmmm...). Fania titles had suffered from poor remasters and inconsistent distribution for years.

Three years ago, Emusica, an affiliate of the then mighty V2, acquired the rights to the catalog (which put the brakes on Spain's Vampisoul from distributing *its* Fania collections in the USA for the most part) and began an ambitious program of proper remasters, well informed compilations and issuing much unreleased material beyond the 4000 official albums in the catalog.

I'm speculating here, but since V2 underwent a restructuring in 2007 and merged with Fontana later that year, perhaps the Fania catalog somehow shook out of that deal. Here is a blogger with some other questions. In any case, this collection is up to the recent standards.

This is prime fifties and sixties dance fever stuff. You'll feel like you were at the Palladium. There is some fine Latin jazz Mark 1 when first rate bebop players were guest starring in orchestras like this one, and those of Machito and Tito Puente. Rodriguez' sound was a huge inspiration to the musicians who would become the Fania All Stars. They recorded an entire album in his honour following his untimely death in the early 70s. The All Stars version of his "Mama Guela" was a big hit (with jazz dancers in England, too) - it's represented here in a live version.

I'd never heard this week's cut "Esta Es Mi Orquestra" - it's a wonderful, imaginative audio treat from 1968. It's "A Young Person's Guide To The Latin Orchestra", in which Rodriguez salutes each member of his band and gives them solo breaks in which to strut their stuff. It's paced like a suite and dominated by Rodriguez' narration. He explains the purpose and personal context of each member of the orchestra - Cachao, of course, is a highlight. Rodriguez assumes on the role of master strategist, psychologist, coach, friend and above all musical director to these many men. For someone whose music preceded most of the 'progressive salsa' of the early seventies, this is as experimental a track as I've ever heard from him.

Take good care of the catalog, Codigo!


esta es mi orquestra - tito rodriguez (fania)
de la timba a pogliotti - pupy y los que son son (egrem)
margarita - toto la momposina (astar)
music - titi (unknown)
conjoined - demdike stare (modernlove)
combat rhythm - two fingers (ninja tune)
di trees - aidonia & tarrus riley (no label)
love and special dub - autonon (fresh poulp)
sound killer - liquid stranger (interchill)
wild (remix) - meat beat manifesto (thirsty ear)
deft - phantom orchard (mego)
ducheng - david sait/ladonna smith (no label)
new day - leroy gibbon (dakarai)
pollution - john clarke (wackies)
time tuff - i roy (unknown)
get our own piece - gisto (wassabi)
black madonna dub - dubmatix (interchill)
mr. money man - pulshar (phonobox)
make it with you - pat satchmo (high school)

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - October 14/09

You don't need me to tell you about Chezidek if you're an enthusiastic gamer. The sweet yet urgent singer's "Call Pon Dem" was featured in Grand Theft Auto 4 not too long ago, giving his recent wealth of material even more currency.

Hopefully this album further capitalizes on this exposure. His passionate, soulful delivery is not unlike Tarrus Riley's, though he's not quite in the same league of pure vocal ability.

Still, Chezidek is the kind of singer that Sly and Robbie have always loved to work with - Tarrus' father, Jimmy Riley, Junior Delgado and Dennis Brown all have had great great success leaning into their bionic dub. Equal parts conscious and romantic, there are clear references to the duo's past both sonically and in some of the hooks, but this pop-friendly yet deep production is strong all the way through.

There have been a few instances in recent years that I've thought Sly and Robbie 'have done their best work in a long time' - among them their collaboration with Amp Fiddler, and one of my favourite singles of this year Courtney John's "Lucky Man". This is another back to the future triumph for them.

French label Tabou 1 has risen from the ashes (RIP 2002) as a netlabel and has made this release available for free download. As a bonus, there is a companion album of dubs - this is what I've been playing again and again on the AI. This is first class electro/organic dub, and I would rank this bonus set highly in the Sly and Robbie catalog.

My limited graphic design skills turned out my own dub version of the album cover...


griot - lloyd mcneill (baobab 1)
a tree is like a man - healing force (cuneiform)
saz dance - abaji (absilone)
strategy of tension - filastine (jarring effects)
mets neidude vahel - collage (wool)
sling shot pt 2 - lefties soul connection (visions from the roof)
me de ma gnin messe - orchestre poly-rhytmo (analog africa)
jet biguine - les loups noir de haiti (soundway)
mindgames - cooptrol (no label)
take it dub - sugar minott (interchill)
nephesh alpha - cheval chamber orchestra (no label)
green light - relic (no label)
p.m.a. - caballo & the mothafu kings (no label)
haxan dub - demdike stare (modern love)
roll and tumble - spit brothers (full melt)
the raft - fat freddy's drop (no label)
whatever we do - ruts dc rmx by salz (echo beach)
delhi/kathmandu (live) - high tone (jarring effects)
surrender dub - chezidek (tabou 1)

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The End Of 91 St. George St.

image courtesy of Andrew Louis


Mid October Notes & Interviews

For those of you who religiously follow the podcasts, it'll be a bumpy ride over the next few weeks as CIUT continues to get set up in its new facilities. Right now, I don't have direct access to the archives, so I have to rely on others to get the show recordings to me so I can upload them. Also, the sound quality is a bit distorted as well in spots - that has to do with working the new on-air mixing board, which doesn't sound like it's fully optimized yet. These issues will be resolved soon.

In upcoming interviews, tune in next week (October 21) for a conversation with electric harpist Zeena Parkins who's in Toronto for a performance with Phantom Orchard, her collaboration with Ikue Mori.

The following week, October 28, Jeremy Strachan will stop by to talk about his new powerfully grooving skronk jazz outfit Canaille, which releases their debut CD the following night at the Music Gallery.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - October 7/09

Don't believe the hype! It's actually 54'05"! Those bonus tracks, you know...

Hold on to your world music hats here, people. Collage comes correct representing Soviet SSR Estonian experimentation wherein folk forms are fused to funk, jazz and bossa nova. A medium sized choir of men and women spin circular phrases around spare musical accompaniment, often just a rhythm section and an electric guitar. What results is somewhere between Marcos Valle, Charlie Haden and Lambert Hendricks and Ross with a penchant for odd time signatures. Even with this wild mix of influences, it was released on the only record label in the country - Melodiya - thereby becoming a curious but official cultural statement.

The bassline from the track played this week sounds like it could have been on Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra record from 1969. Moreover there's another track on the record which features the band playing along to a scratchy old vinyl recording of Estonian folksong, as the LHO does with Spanish patriotic music on their disc. This album was recorded the following year, so perhaps it's not a coincidence. There's some lovely Herbie Hancock style piano on this cut as well - in fact the whole approach to fusion on this disc sounds is of a mostly acoustic, pre-In A Silent Way vintage, despite some tasty wah guitar here and there.

The disc runs out of ideas about two thirds of the way through, but since you're guaranteed to have heard nothing like this before, that won't stop me from recommending it.


As far as statements of progressive folklore
chimera - radian (thrill jockey)
story telling - ganesh anandan/hans reichel (ambiances magnetiques)
arpeggio - tony wilson sextet (drip audio)
don't gild the lily - harris eisenstadt (clean feed)
takemorsja - collage (wool)
ti fala ou te mapali -anzala dolor vero (soundway)
manita uribe - toto la momposina (astar)
gigante - the binary cumbia orchestra (no label)
bah - scott (fluid ounce)
nou de ma gnin te fe deme - orchestre poly-rhytmo de contonou (analog africa)
nhemamusasa - tinashe chidanyika (arc)
trois - the seasons (towerblock)
a good day to play - prof fingers feat eleanor mante (5 1/4)
shackled soul - the slew (ninja tune)
cabaclo - nsista (no label)
shiverman - fat freddy's drop (no label)
babylon ambush - dubkasm (no label)
leaving dub - gregory isaacs (trojan)
dance on the corner - jah thomas (roots)
big shot rhythm - major banks (no label)

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

R.I.P. L.I.P.

Today, Eye Weekly's daily blog published my tribute to Lance Ingleton, the man behind LIP Entertainment.

He was a visionary programmer of live events in Toronto. I never knew him but after talking to former CIUT colleague Denise Jones and reggae musician Lazo, I wish I had. Ingleton sounded like a upright guy who was very committed to a wide range of cultural promotion.

I knew this ticket stub was worth saving. This was from Reggaefest 90 at Lamport Stadium - Dennis Brown headlined the other night. Other names on the bill: the then white-hot Shabba Ranks, and a young rap group called A Tribe Called Quest.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - September 30/09

Over at I've written about Kid Koala's new project The Slew which plays Montreal tonight (Oct. 2) and Toronto the next day. The (somewhat edited) post runs down the basic info about the project, but I was tempted to write more about the aesthetic behind it.

The turntable generated cock-rock of 100% goes down easy (ahem), but lurking behind its Bic-flicking 'tude is Koala's typically surreal approach to music making. Perhaps more than any other turntablist, Koala has succeeded in fusing the hip hop aesthetic of the medium (yeah, yeah... John Cage etc., but most turntablists around the world trace their lineage, or define themselves against New York in the 70s) with adaptable, tone-generating techniques which interfaces well with other musical strategies. And he does it with a sense of humour which only occasionally lapses into silliness.

Since he and partner in crime Dynomite D are working within a genre tantamount to musical comfort food, he can get away with some major idiosyncracies. In our interview, Koala said: "We wanted that dust on the record" - that dirty vinyl texture was introduced to modern music by hip hop, and has never been the intention of rock bands, even though the extreme processing of electric guitars generates a similar sort of rough, random noise. Vinyl noise reinforces the artificiality of the collage. You can hear all those turntable siginifiers like looped dust, occasionally awkward flams between loops that don't quite match up, fluctuating levels caused by manual manipulation of audio sources, and of course, 'hand-cut' guitar riffs which underline the music's composition via turntablism rather than a live band.

These techniques also set 100% apart from Fatboy Slim, or more recently DJ Champion, who espouse a smoother sort of big beat, using obvious turntablist sounds as window dressing as opposed to building blocks. With these two artists, the consistency of the beat is always job one; with Koala, it's always about pushing the limits of the technology even if the beat stutters a little. In this context, the slight variability of the beat makes the whole project rock harder, in that the mimicry is closer to a rock drummer's sense of drama than a DJ's.

I've always had great respect for Koala's musical and visual art, but now I'm especially impressed that he's worked harder than ever to create something utterly surreal within something stooopidly satisfying for Q107 disciples and art-gallery bohos alike.

Podcast - excuse the distortion on the mix, since this was the first week of the new studio's operation, the levels weren't optimal.

pama rum kwan - pm pocket music (sublime frequencies)
panatibat - kwan jit sri prajaw (sublime frequencies)
good news for you - m. ashrat feat nahid akhtar (finders keepers)
din ya sugri - christy azuma & uppers international (soundway)
se ba ho - orchestre poly-rythmo (analog africa)
movin' and groovin' - little francesco greaves (soundway)
vuleveme a querer - perez prado (unknown)
angels - max pashm (proper)
beauties from athina - shantel (essay)
pretty face - chancery blame & gadjo club rmx by andy kisaragi (no label)
C. V. J x + 1 - casey foubert & james mcallister (asthmatic kitty)
carbon - dave da gato (fluid ounce)
100% - the slew (no label)
earthshaking - jahdan blakkamoore (gold dust)
la bonita - el remolon (no label)
force to quit - force quit (zung zeng)
salvation - caballo & the mothafu kings (no label)
warren dub - morphy (nerve recordings)
strictly ital - dubkasm & ras addis (
i and i - agape (sustainable)
brothers and sisters - version xcursion feat kulcha ites (vx)
holly version - jackie mittoo (coxsone)

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