Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 bye bye

                                                 (in the photo above: William Onyeabor)

Bye-bye 2013. I can't say I am sad to see it leave. At least I got to hear a few records and see some bands.
Here's a few items that I would like to mention:

RIP Yusef Lateef, one of the true giants of American music.

10...What a pleasure it was to find a new book that documents the life words of one of my favorite rhythm masters, the afrobeat OG Tony Allen. The Nigerian drummer was Fela Kuti's bandleader for more than a decade and laid down the rhythmic pattern for afrobeat and all its children. Tony Allen: An Autobiography of the Master Drummer of Afrobeat (Duke Univ. Press), written with Michael E. Veal (author of the biography Fela: The Life & Times of an African Musical Icon), captures our hero in his own tales shedding light on his relationship with Fela, his personal accomplishments and hardships, his musical influences and his family life. Thoughts on experiences of drug dependency, musical elation, living abroad and touring fill the pages. A favorite insight of mine are the words about the tragically underknown drummer Frank Butler, who has played & recorded with Coltrane & Miles. Tony sites him as a key inspiration, while some golden-era African bandleaders get some love from Tony as well. Put your reading glasses on.

9 Americans should thank the Europeans, Japanese and indy DIY labels for caring about their national music because the general public in the Wretched States of America could not give a fuck about jazz. That kind of void in understanding cultural richness explains a lot about the kind of garbage Americans try and sustain themselves on in daily life. Hell, nobody even seems to go OUT anymore to hear anything or to buy anything or to care to support anything. Not many folks in the States seem to have any money to develop a reason to need anything but stolen prescription drugs, internet gossip, junkfood, and alcohol. So is it crazy to think that there could be a growing market for the kind of esoteric jazz that many Americans are too listening-impaired to understand? Well, my theory is that these days people who are still buying album-intended music are doing so because they want something truly rewarding. Here are a few that may interest you:
---Ahmed Abdul-Malik Jazz Sahara LP reissue (So Far Out) & Spellbound CD reissue (Dusty Groove). I have been a fan of Ahmed Abdul-Malik for a long time and it is always nice to see his stuff get reissued. A bassist/oud player/fusioneer pioneer of East & West, he was a childhood friend of Randy Weston and played with Monk, Coltrane, and on some of Herbie Mann's hipper albums. He made six LPs under his leadership and five of them have been reissued on either CD or LP, including these two in 2013. The first is an incredible early fusion of North African & Middle Eastern sounds with jazz. Johnny Griffin flies over much of it. The second one is a CD issue of a very scarce album of cinematic themes. It's actually all quite tasteful, with the star being Ray Nance who doubles on trumpet and violin. 
---Max Roach's We Insist! Freedom Now Suite LP reissue (So Far Out) is still a stunner over 50 years later. A civil rights classic with Olatunji, Coleman Hawkins, lyricist Oscar Brown Jr, Abbey Lincoln (who screams like a proto Yoko on the record). It's got a photo of a lunch counter sit-in on the front and makes a bold statement of black pride. Heavy stuff for 1960. I am not so certain about the origins of the So Far Out imprint but they are putting out high quality LP editions of classic records, with original artwork. A large batch from this year has also produced re-ups on great records by Sabu, Les Baxter, Tito Puente, Ornette, Ray Barretto, Esquivel and more and we are fortunate to have these classics available right now.
---There have been a few CD-era recordings out there that I have always wished someone would put to vinyl. Well, one album near the top of wish list has been vinylized! Saxophonist Charles Gayle's scorching classic Touchin' On Trane is a trio with William Parker & Rashied Ali (Trane's last drummer) from Halloween '91. I saw this trio a few years later at The Cooler and they played some of the heaviest music I have ever witnessed. Gayle was a hot item around this time after the enthusiasm of punk rockers in his music brought him from the mean streets and into a recording career. The Jazzwerkstatt label cuts one tune to fit the LP. For all the powerful sound on here there is quite a bit of lyricism. This sounds like it coulda been recorded in '66, with Gayle playing Ayler & Pharoah-inspired licks, you could imagine Parker thinking about Henry Grimes. And Rashied? Well he was there WITH Trane in '66. The spirit continues. This is an absolute must for real jazz heads. First time ever on vinyl and it sounds mighty heavy.
---Relativity Suite, originally on JCOA '73 is another great Don Cherry disk. I can never recommend his 70s work enough. This time out its a 17-piece Jazz Composers Orchestra plus tambura and the Chinese stringed instrument "ching" (or chin or xin). This moves in continuous streams of music riffing on sounds from Africa, India, the Middle East and China along the way. There's a large bed of strings and some gorgeous lines from bassist Haden. Frank Lowe has a few good blasts and Blackwell is your drummer. A short journey, lengthwise on the format, but an entrancing foreign music in the grooves. "Jazz" is a very loose categorization. 2013 also saw France's Klimt reissue underheard classics from Rashied Ali, Centipede, Mike Westbrook, Geronimo Black and more. Whether or not those names mean anything to you they certainly do to me.

 8 The following were a few things of note that are not talked about elsewhere here, most of which was sent to me but a few things I went out and bought with my hard earned cash. 
---The best band I saw or heard for the first time in 2013 goes back to January at Jimmy T's b-day party at Drom. A bunch of cool bands, many groovy friends and some good weed. We came back from the street-smoke just in time for M.A.K.U. Soundsystem to lay on their sweet tribute to the picos. Cumbia, punk, afrobeat, dancehall, you name it. These guys are like a Cartagena sound system but they are a real live band! They've got two self-produced vinyls, a 7" and the Music Never Dies (MND) 12". Do it.
---I caught the Boston psych band Ghost Box Orchestra when they came to the very cool Thursday Night rock series at Northampton's Sierra Grill. It was a fun night with Guillermo Sexo on the bill (they have a new album too, find it here). As soon as GBO got their machines hummin' the crowd was entranced. I have always gone for that acid/heroin mixture of a sound. For those who like sweet and heavy drone-rock with a downer lilt (Loop, Spacemen 3, Baby Grandmothers) with drums up in the mix, you may want to try their new LP Vanished. One of my favorite LPs of the year.
 ---The Stark Reality were a studio group in Boston who made a truly awesome psychedelic children's record ca 1970, putting fuzz-jazz arrangements to Hoagy Carmichael tunes. Now Again has put all known (released or unreleased) recordings of the band onto one box set, 3 CDs or 6 LPs. The guitarist is a young John Abercrombie. Have a blast.
---Rico Pabón Todo Lo Que Soy CD...Rico has outdone himself with this one, a loving tribute to his Puerto Rican heritage. Funded by an online campaign, here's some music for those who desire a bit of funk & hiphop in their salsa. Oakland's Rico Pabón has been long one of my favorite rap artists (ex-Prophets of Rage) but this one has even more sabor with a seemless blend of stylistic diversity making for a smooth mix of salsa, funk, hiphop, bomba, timba, and even reggae. Kinda reminds me of Yerba Buena. Many incredible Bay Area musicians appear (John Santos, Anthony Blea). Heat.
---I attended the CD release party for Rebel Tumbao, a collaboration between keyboardist Matt Jensen and timbalista & percussionist José Claussell (formerly w/ Eddie Palmieri's band). There were a lot of friendly faces there and Josés brother Joe did a DJ set. The band was a supremely enjoyable fusion of reggae, afro-cuban music and some Harlem River Drive-esque soul jazz. The disk is equally fun, with some Marley tunes and a bit of Coltrane to go with several Jensen originals. Looking forward to more.
---Scientist meets Ted Sirota's Heavyweight Dub (Liberated Zone)...Most of the music I've heard to date from Chicago drummer Sirota was of a progressive jazz variety with some reggae influence. This is an album of some originals and some reggae classics in collaboration with Jamaican dubmaster The Scientist. This one is played straight and doesn't have a trace of any avant-garde tendencies. Spring reverb, swirling trombones, such fun.
---Dusty Mood Matters (Jazz & Milk)...Had a good time hanging with Chris Dusty when he was visiting from Germany. He runs the Jazz & Milk label and he handed me his new album of jazz, house, afrobeat, & Brazilian flavors. Stylistically diverse and a fun listen, always with jazz at the core. Very cool little paper studio on the sleeve photo.
---A Tribe Called Red Nation II Nation (Tribal Spirit Music)This Ottawa-based native project has developed some very moving house music with pow-pow rhythms at its root. The 36-minute CD is pounding from the core. Too bad I missed them when they came thru because this disk suggests an exciting party.
---The Fontanelles were involved with the Fela musical in London and made a cool afro funk full-length player (Horns of Freedom) with an accompanying 7", both released on First Word Records. Good stuff with a hefty dose of afrofunk and a whiff of reggae. I would love to hear these guys sometime.
---Coming from funky, funky Australia is this funk powerhouse. The Liberators new album for Record Kicks (Power Struggle) features excellent horn-charging afrobeat/funk, mostly instrumental save for one cut with the fabulous singer Roxie Ray. According to their press release "it's obvious the sounds of fracturing world events echo throughout the album". And what world events specifically does the band reference? The NSA leaks? Miley Cyrus at the VMAs? As much as this is very cool music I would still like to see more of these types of bands write some lyrics. Still a powerful groove here though.
---My favorite cover song of the year goes to Chicha Libre for their cumbia del oeste version of Love's "Alone Again Or". Any fan of Forever Changes will have their mind blown by this one. Additionally, the Barbés-released Cuatro Tigres 12" 45 rpm job features eerie covers of tunes by The Clash, the Simpsons theme and an old Peruvian tune by Los Chapis. CL are a fantastic live outfit, if you get a chance. Check them out at their homespot Barbés nightclub in Brooklyn.
---If psychedelic cumbias like referenced in the item above are a thing that gets your brain-bones dancin' then you are in luck because you get a bunch on DJ Bongohead's nifty Latin Psychedelia selection for The Rough Guides imprint. You also get South American psych rock (Traffic Sound, El Opio), contemporary bands (Ocote, Brownout), acid-tripping bugalú (Joe Cuba) wicked funk (Frankie Dante, Wild Wind) and more.
Consumer note: The double CD package includes an entire disk of great fuckin' music from Los Destellos (Peru's greatest!). Not only that but the notes are much deeper than the edited LP version allows. The LP is also fine and is limited to 10 tunes and 750 pressed. Bongohead did a Cumbia set for RG as well. 
---Ubiquity Records kept a schedule full of funky good flavor. For the label, "Bosq" aka Ben Woods (of Boston's Whiskey Barons)  made a full-length album generous with the good grooves, and three related 12"s (including a couple of singles of afro-disco goodness with former Fela guitarist Kaleta). The Bosq y Orquesta de Madera  2xLP covers jazzy house & disco territory with a lot of tropical touches. The man's been mighty busy between his Whiskey Barons happenings, remixing tracks by Nickodemus & Sammy Ayala (RIP), Jungle Fire, Warsaw Afrobeat and others, as well as producing original good music. Also from the Ubiquity camp was my favorite of what (little) hip-hop I heard in 2013 in the name of Soundsci and their Soundsational album of soul-rooted beats & rhymes and lots of samples from UR's Mike James Kirkland catalog. Dope stuff. The year's haul also included dancefloor-ready funk singles by Ikebe Shakedown, a moody Shawn Lee/Adrian Quesada collab (Electric Peanut Butter Co.--they do a version of F Mac's "Dreams" on here), the funky Turner Brothers and more. I can tell you that Ubiquity Records always get a listen due to the amount of great music they have brought to my ears through the years.  
---I'm not ashamed to say that "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk was my favorite pop tune of the year.
---And we bid farewell to one of my favorite baseball players, Mariano Rivera. The well-respected Panamanian threw a cut fastball that very few could ever touch. He broke one player's bat three (!) times during a single at-bat in the '99 World Series. The Yankee legend exits the game as the greatest relief pitcher of all time. With all the great gifts the man received from opposing teams on his farewell tour, he still even got a song written about him. NYC bugalú band Spanglish Fly made "42 (El Cuarenta y Dos)" in tribute. The song was even heard on ESPN. 

7...This would be a good time to send out my thanks to all my friends in my local neighborhood. I enjoy the scene here in Western Mass, lots of hip brothers & sisters, some excellent bands and lots & lots of weed-smoking. Some of the area's best bands kept us rolling through all the seasons. We've seen a re-energized Shokazoba (with a new album coming in 2014) make some big waves, the continued excellence of The Alchemystics (one of the best live bands in the Northeast, in my opinion) and the emergence of several good new bands (most notably The Gaslight Tinkers, who have a unique blend of Caribbean and Celtic sounds).
We also heard new albums from The Primate Fiasco & the funky, funky Alan Evans Trio. Bishop's Lounge in Northampton continues to be one of the best funk spots in New England with an "air" of excitement every time. There also exists a thriving DIY/house party scene in every corner of the Valley. Here's to more good things happening in 2014!

6 Here are thirteen off-the-wall 7" vinyls from 2013, in alphabetical order:  
1) Casket...Noisy contemporary Philly hardcore with some death metal influence. Very crusty stuff. A-side parts remind me of, oh I don't know, Germany's Fear of God or Colombia's Confusion. B-side detects some early Neurosis. Titles are "Destroy the Cross" & "Straight to the Hearse" (Mindless)  
2) Conjunto Papa Upa...a twisted 45 of genuine burning creativity. A blissful smoky haze of afro-Venezuelan rhythms, heavy reverb and dirty Farfisa. (Music With Soul)
3) Cutlass Dance Band (Academy...see #3 of main article)
4) G-Flux...electro-cumbias to get your girdle gliding. Very cool. Get it here. (Electric Cowbell)
5) Happy Jawbone Family Band/Spectral Park split 7"...HJFB sound like the drunk & crusty sons of "Sister Ray".  Spectral uses warped records to sound like a warped record. 300 press. (Mexican Summer)
6) Hard Proof...solid Texas afrobeat with ripping bari. Another band to put on my must-see list. (Kept)
7) Jungle of my favorite singles of 2013 with the disco-funk stomper "Firewalker" and the Mongo-ish "Chalupa". One of many cool releases out on the Ohio-based label Colemine Records, who have committed a pile of funky 45s to the landscape in 2013. Other highlights include the killer soul cut "Things You Do" (and the only one in the year's batch to feature a vocal) by Fat Night, In Motion Collective (afrobeat from San Diego) and The Grease Traps (nice Meters style funk one one side and an afrobeat groove on "Burning Bush".
8) Los Issifu & his Moslems...see #3 of main article
9) Los Pirañas...a follow-up single to their full-length live performance-recorded album Toma Tu Jabón Kapax, and these may very well be from that same performance. Members of Bogatá, Colombia's Frente Cumbiero, this is a tropical punk trio with electronics/guitar, bass & percussion. Very fresh & original music that pleases my ears immensely, kinda reminds me of The Ex. Released on Alona's Dream and pressed on pinkish vinyl. There was a cheeky cover of "Purple Haze" on the Soundway imprint from the related Meridien Brothers project, which also scores some points.
10) Matt Weston...rollicking and rhythmic one-man-band recorded in tribute to late drummer friend Teri Morris. Very unique sounding avant-basement tunes. (7272 Music)
11) Nico Gomez How could a man with a 45 box and a dancefloor turn down a swell and roaring new 45 issue of "Lupita"? The Europe-based Gomez beefed up the Perez Prado cooker with a whole lot of funk muscle, ca '70...Both sides are groovy & stellar. Reissue courtesy Mr Bongo. Get your related Bosq bonus here.
12) R Stevie Moore...home-taping legend whose name I've known but never checked out until this release. Some sweet 60s-inspired tunes that are just a bit "off" in a cool way. Two cuts from '87 & '94. Released on Sweaters & Pearls. Check out Jason S&P's cool blog dedicated to reviewing contemporary 7" records.
13) Solo Hit...very cool afro funk (Analog Africa)  

 5 My favorite album cover of the year goes to Maya Hayuk for this deeply beautiful sleeve art for Dan Friel's anthemic-noise opera Total Folklore (Thrill Jockey). And congrats to Dan on being a new papa! 

4 What about the noise scene, I hear you ask? Well, when I am not too busy hanging with funk bands in bars or working in my house I may venture into a local freak session be it at a gallery, house party or watering hole. They may not look like me but this breed is just as fucked up, if not more so. Really, where else are you gonna get people who twerk to electronic chaos devices, put contact mics on every bug that crawls by and sport oversized eyeglasses? We're talking a party here. And some of these party animals put out some stuff that happened to assault my ears in a pleasureful way.
---Dan G. is on a mission. Armed with an intimate knowledge of electronics, various horror suits and a desire to fuck with chaos, Guts Greenwood (aka Diagram A) is quitting his day job to make noise devices that are sure to be fun for the whole family (no joke), with creative collaboration from Alicia R. As of the 1st of '14 they are still conducting their online campaign to fund the project. And you can hear the sound of the man's craft on the Diagram A Your Object 2xLP (Open Mouth-a cool imprint run by esteemed citizen Bill Nace). Some of this sounds like field recordings of mutant birds on the moon. Greenwood is credited here for "handcrafted malfunction electronics, study of humans".
---And it is these malfunction electronics that drive the latest Noise Nomads record on Feeding Tube (300 press). Mr Jeff H recently had his attorney contacted by someone representing one Mr Ernest L Thrasher Jr about the use of his dad's gravestone for the grimsley cover shot. Imagine the horror on Jeff's face as his secretary tells him "Ernest Thrasher is on the line". As if the old guy was coming back from the dead to collect his royalties. The crafted noise-bliss on this document is scaring up old bones left and right. And how fitting NN honors more dead as the label shots feature the Schuldiner/Hanneman two-headed Mt Rushmore of thrash. And one more thing Mr Hartford...If Greenwood's electronics are enabling you here, does that make you Missy Elliot to Dan's Timbaland? 
---A bizarre one got caught in the net with Henry & Hazel Slaughter Endless Power Cycle LP (Fedora Corpse) It's very weird (unsteadily) rhythmic basement-groove from Wolf Eyes guy, kinda like lo-fi noise techno music. 
---I also saw Drop Dead play again, for the first time in a long ass time. The Providence, RI thrash maniacs play their animal rights determining hardcore so damn fast that it may be assaultive noise itself. It was great to catch up with those guys.

3 The afro-reissue rolls ever onward. My favorite one has to be Who Is William Onyeabor?, issued on David Byrne's Luaka Bop label. Anyone with an interest in old synths, left-field disco or genuinely unique musical subjects should hold no qualms about purchasing this 3xLP anthology. (Yes, get the vinyl). An Igbo who pressed his own albums of wicked cosmic funk. This comp chooses to feature his political and philisophical lyrics and not so much of his christian-toned subject matter that I have heard elsewhere. The comp picks the best stuff and delivers a fantastic deluxe package, complete with the works of contemporary Nigerian graphic artists within the LP inners. Thumbs up. Here's a few other heard highlights:
---Funky Pack by CS Crew offers fat and chunky funk grooves with multiple vocalists, a Moog "borrowed" from Jimmy Cliff and powered by a drummer named Buttley. This Nigerian band follows a Mandrill influence into the group funk sound of the 70s. There is bonus material tacked onto the end of the LP's side 2 by Youths Of The Universe (YOU), an earlier rock band that members of CS Crew came from. Informative notes from Uchenna (Comb & Razor) within. Well worth hearing and available from Boston's Cultures of Soul.
---You can always trust Analog Africa for some damn fine reissues. We were ecstatic to hear Angola Soundtrack 2, Afrobeat Airways: Return Flight To Ghana and the very cool Solo Hit "Imoikeme"/"Ododo" 45. And of course the heavy Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou's third volume of classic recordings The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk 1969-80 is an awesome set. And the Benin legends are still touring and recording even after the passing of saxophonist/bandleader Mélomé Clément in Dec 2012. That representative bundle is quite a diverse collection of music. I can attest that year in and year out Analog Africa has continued to delight me.
---Although I have never heard of Jimmy Mawi before this Soundway 10" release my ears are hearing a wicked blues/funk guitarist. From Madagascar, he was settled in Kenya when he recorded these nasty grinders in the mid 70s. This is some bluesy, fuzzy funk rock with searing guitar, a bit of horns and organ, and a charming vocal delivery. Both psychedelic and mean at the same time, this is quite simply one of the best records I heard all year. Connected to the label's Kenya Special compilation which I am still looking forward to hearing. (Lavish triple-LP sets on import labels don't always make their way to me as much as I wish for.)
---The two cool singles this citizen heard from Academy/Voodoo Funk (always an inspired team) knocked my socks off. The Cutlass Dance Band of Ghana record has a heavy afro funk tune on one side and a wicked highlife shaker on the flip. The Los Issifu & his Moslems 45 is interesting because both these songs are most certainly inspired by Cymande. "Kana Soro" references "The Message" and "Idarga Bidi" sounds like a cover of "Brothers On The Slide". Both 1000 press. Go for it.
---I am confident and excited that the floodgates for Cape Verdean music will be opening further. The recent Sofrito 12" The Sound of Cape Verde loops the percussion breakdown of Bulimundo's "Santo Antóni la Belém" and stitches it to the beginning for a jumping lead-in to an absolutely gorgeous song. We are also treated to selections from Dioniso Mayo and Os Kings, both in full booming sound, easy floor fillers. Here's a cool mix. Also, it appears that Sofrito may have repressed the weird Nigerian synth-trip of Benis Cletin's "Jungle Fire". Highly recommended as well.
---Phase 2 by Nigeria's BLO is the second album (1974) by one of the original afro-rock groups. BLO's music shifted from psych to funk rock to disco as the 70s went along. This album grants us danceable African rock with some wicked guitar by Berkley Jones and some fairly even songwriting credits spread among the trio.  Originally on Afrodisia, the Strawberry Rain imprint reissues another from one of my favorite bands of the Motherland.
---Also recommended: Nkengas Destruction LP reissue (Secret Stash), Dieuf-Diell de Thiés Aw Sa Yone vol 1 (Teranga Beat), Peter King African Dialects & Omo Lewa LPs (Secret Stash)

The amount of great African music that our Western ears have been fortunate enough to hear so far is enough to last a lifetime. We will simply never hear it all. 

2 Let's give a hand for record stores who put out cool records! The re-population of vinyl boutiques are a very welcome sight to behold. I don't care how much you wanna boast about bagging some fancy plastic-sleeve LP straight up offa the interwebs mall, these record merchant spots are worth the visit. Record shops have a long history of doubling as social clubs, recording studios and producers of exclusive product. Since we are back on the upswing, record shops continue to host events, present art happenings and several are back to putting out records. Mississippi Records (Portland, OR, check out the 10" Rocket Infinity: The Global Rise Of Rocking Music 42-62), Domino Sound (one of my favorites!-New Orleans), Academy (NYC, see #3 above), Feeding Tube (see #4) & Mystery Train (both in Western Mass) are among the suppliers of off-the-wall shit.


1  Along with Sunny Murray, a major innovator in so-called free jazz drums was Milford Graves who had played percussion in Latin groups and studied the tablas before entering the mid-60s freedom scene. And he wasn't just freeing it from that of strict timekeeping but also modifying the tonalities of the drums, stripping the set itself down to the core of its deeper sound. The bottom skins would be removed and bongos added along with gongs and various other articles. Graves recorded on some records for the revolutionary ESP Disk and music was made with Albert Ayler, Lowell Davidson, Don Pullen and several percussion ensembles. In 2013 Milford was the Lifetime Achievement honoreé at the 18th Vision Festival, NYC's annual avant-jazz & dance convention. To celebrate his life's work he brought along a Latin group (that went a bit out), a tribute to the late Pullen and another combo that was inspired by Milford's 60s collaborators in New York Art Quartet, w/ William Parker on bass and Charles Gayle (see #12) filling in for the late John Tchicai. The whole night was incredible and the house was packed. Professor Graves had his whole family present and the vibes were as warm as the sound tremendous. 
And speaking of ESP-Disk Records, they celebrated a 50th anniversary of destroying ears and melting minds. I discovered this totally weird 60s/early 70s record label around 17 when I worked in a record shop. I had been copping Forced Exposure zine and getting an imagination-full of honking free jazz blowers ready to tear down the motherfucking system. So when given free reign to order whatever I wanted I kept the store stocked for all the ear-expanded freaks of the neighborhood. While the owner could run his illegal businesses behind a record store front, I took to calling Forced Exposure and ordering some titles. That marked the beginning of a lifelong fascination with free jazz and outside approaches to sound and song. The early titles I heard by Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Frank Lowe, NY Art Quartet, Milford Graves, etc blew my ears & attitude further left-field than ever. This was around the time of the ZYX and Base reissues and since then I have copped many originals of this label full of curiosity. While I didn't make it to this year's 50th anniversary concert I did get to put my time to the entertaining and informative book about the label. Always In Trouble by Jason Weiss (Wesleyan) is a great read on the 60s label. It includes interviews with many of the noteworthy artists on the roster, including essential Q&A with Sunny Murray, Milford Graves, Tom Rapp, Giuseppi Logan (who's "More" album was reissued this year by ESP with extra minutes), Gato Barbieri, Amiri Baraka, Warren Smith, engineer Richard Alderson and many others. And label head Bernard Stollman gets a lot of space himself, of course. Most of the artists interviewed seemed to have some degree of problem with Stollman's business practices while mostly aknowledging that he had been a positive in their careers in helping them get exposure. As they say "no one else was recording this music". The book is a must-read for out music freaks and fans of the label. And if you've never heard such sounds in your life then let me direct you to Sun Ra and Albert Ayler and we'll see if you come back the same.

Okay, enough with the sentimental shit. On to 2014.

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