Tag Archives: jazz

Video: Preview Guitarists Henry Kaiser, Ray Russell Collaboration, ‘The Celestial Squid’

Some months back the extraordinary experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser dropped an advance of his upcoming collaboration with free jazz guitarist Ray Russell, The Celestial Squid.

The album is a free jazz mindblower.

Today a 12 minute promo video for the album was released:

I’ve been digging Kaiser’s music since the late ’70s when I wrote a short article about him for New West magazine. We subsequently became friends. Recently, in December, we collaborated when Henry improvised as i read from my novel, True Love Scars, at Down Home Music in El Cerrito, CA.

Here’s info on the album direct from Cuneiform Records, which will release it on February 3, 2015.

Guitar summits don’t ascend higher than when legendary British free-jazz pioneer and longtime session ace Ray Russell meets the brilliant California avant-improv overachiever and Antarctic diver Henry Kaiser in the realm of The Celestial Squid. With more than countless session and soundtrack performances to his credit, including the early James Bond film scores, Russell is returning to his bone-rattling, noise-rocking roots for the first time since the very early 70s. You’ll be shaken and stirred as Kaiser, Russell and eight super friends deliver a no-holds-barred, free-range sonic cage match.

Russell created some of the early ’70s’ most outrageously outside music, releasing hallmark works of guitar shock-and-awe. Russell’s “stabbing, singing notes and psychotic runs up the fretboard have nothing to do with scalular architecture,” wrote All Music’s Thom Jurek, “but rather with viscera and tonal exploration.” Russell anticipated the wildest and most intrepid vibrations of Terje Rypdal, Dave Fuzinski, Sonic Youth, Keiji Haino, Tisziji Muñoz and their boundary-dissolving ilk. Russell is hardly a niche performer, though. Untold millions of music and film fans have actually, if unknowingly, already enjoyed Russell’s riffs – at least if they saw any of the James Bond films that John Barry scored, beginning with Dr. No in 1962.

For over 40 years, Russell would not make such exploratory music until West Coast guitar experimentalist Henry Kaiser called him out of the blue and asked if he would be interested in co-leading an ensemble in the style of his ’71 masterpiece, Live at the ICA: June 11th 1971. Russell was surprised and delighted by the offer, and readily accepted. Why had he waited so long to once again explore the free-jazz spaceways you might well wonder? Simple – no one had asked him to do so!

So on April 12, 2014, Henry Kaiser and Ray Russell – along with drummers Weasel Walter and William Winant, bassists Michael Manring (electric) and Damon Smith (acoustic), and saxophonists Steve Adams, Joshua Allen, Phillip Greenlief, and Aram Shelton – entered Berkeley, California’s Fantasy Studios for a day-long session that resulted in The Celestial Squid, a nearly eighty-minute embryonic journey through the deepest waters and most cosmic heights of improvised music. Except for melodic heads and compositional structures, everything on The Celestial Squid is improvised, down to some astonishing extemporaneous horn arrangements. While The Celestial Squid echoes the raw energy and youthful bravado of Russell’s earliest achievements, this music synergizes the combined power and imagination of all ten of these musical masters into a force to be reckoned with.

guitars: Henry Kaiser, Ray Russell
saxophones: Steve Adams, Joshua Allen, Phillip Greenlief, Aram Shelton
electric bass: Michael Manring
acoustic bass: Damon Smith
drums: Weasel Walter, William Winant

recorded live by Adam Munoz at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA on April 12, 2014
mixed by Henry Kaiser, Adam Munoz, Weasel Walter at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA
mastered by Paul Stubblebine
artwork and art direction by Brandy Gale
production by Henry Kaiser

– A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post –

Audio – R.I.P. Dept.: Hard Bop Jazz Great Horace Silver Dead at 85

The late great Horace Silver. Photo via Blue Note Records.

The great jazz pianist, Horace Silver, who co-founded the Jazz Messengers and pioneered ‘Hard Bob,’ died today at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y. He was 85.

According to his son Gregory, Silver died of natural causes.

For the Los Angeles Times obit, go here.

For Billboard’s obit, go here.

For NPR’s obit, go here.

Listen now to some awesome jazz.

Horace Silver 5tet – “Song For My Father” 1968:

“Señor Blues” 1956:

“Blowin’ The Blues Away,” Newport 1959:

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – “Nica’s Dream” (Silver on piano) 1956

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

R.I.P. Dept.: Jazz Legend Yusef Lateef, Dead at 93

Yusef Lateef (left).

Yusef Lateef (born William Emanuel Huddleston), a Grammy-winning jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer, educator, died today at his home in Shutesbury, Mass. He was 93.

Lateef’s main instruments were the tenor saxophone and flute, but he also played oboe and bassoon, and used a number of world music instruments, notably the bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, Xun, arghul, sarewa, and koto. He is known for his innovative blending of jazz with “Eastern” music, according to Wikipedia.

For more on Yusef Lateef, head to Billboard and TheChattanoogan.com and the Detroit Free Press.

Yussef Lateef Norwegian TV rare = flute solo + “Robot man”

Love Theme From Spartacus – 1961

Eastern Sounds – FULL ALBUM

The Centaur and the Phoenix – FULL ALBUM

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

RIP: Jazz Great Chico Hamilton Dead at 92

The drummer and bandleader Chico Hamilton, a cornerstone of the modern West Coast jazz scene of the 1950s, died yesterday (Monday, November 25, 2013) in Manhattan.

“Hamilton had a subtle and melodic approach that made him ideally suited for the refined, understated style that came to be known as cool jazz, of which his hometown, Los Angeles, was the epicenter,” jazz expert Peter Keepnews wrote in the New York Times today.

“He was a charter member of the baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s quartet,” Keepnews wrote, “which helped lay the groundwork for the cool movement. His own quintet, which he formed shortly after leaving the Mulligan group, came to be regarded as the quintessence of cool. With its quiet intensity, its intricate arrangements and its uniquely pastel instrumentation of flute, guitar, cello, bass and drums — the flutist, Buddy Collette, also played alto saxophone — the Chico Hamilton Quintet became one of the most popular groups in jazz.”

Musicians who passed through Hamilton’s group included bassist Ron Carter, the saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Charles Lloyd and the guitarists Jim Hall, Gabor Szabo and Larry Coryell.

For more, check out the obits in the New York Times and the L.A. Times.

“The Wind,” 1956

Buddy Collette (alto sax)
Fred Katz (cello)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Carson Smith (bass)
Chico Hamilton (drums)

“Blue Sands,” 1955

Bass – Carson Smith
Cello – Fred Katz
Drums – Chico Hamilton
Guitar – Jim Hall
Reeds – Buddy Collette

“Lady Gabor, 1962

Chico Hamilton: drums
Charles Lloyd : tenor sax and flute
George Bohanon : trombone
Gabor Szabo : guitar
Albert Stinson : bass

“The Dealer,” 1966

Arnie Lawrence : alto saxophone
Larry Coryell : guitar
Richard Davis : bass
Chico Hamilton : drums , percussion
Jimmy Cheatham : arranger

— A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post —

Listen: Thelonious Monks “Paris 1969”

On November 25 the late great jazz pianist Thelonious Monk will have an album released, Paris 1969, which was recorded at the Salle Pleyel concert hall in Paris on December 15, 1969.

Listen now at NPR.

Miles Davis The Painter? Who Knew?

Turns out Miles Davis painted and drew for many hours each day.

His art is damn good. Some reminds me of Basquiat.

A book, “Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork,” was published recently.

You can see 12 examples of his painting and drawing at The Daily Beast.

Miles’ heirs are working away at keeping the legendary jazz musician in the spotlight, and bringing Davis’ music to younger generations. Some of their plans — remixes by hip DJs — seem sketchy, others — ties and scarves? — seem sacreligious. But a biopic is a great idea, and I welcome more music.

A story in todays New York Times details some of what his three heirs are up to.