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Rare Steve Lacy LP Shows Up In Hollywood

Posted by Rick Frystak, October 7, 2013 03:43pm | Post a Comment

Steve Lacy has always been one of my favorite horn players since I first hear him in the mid 70’s. He delivers a liquid, speech-like sound with his soprano saxophone which he plays exclusively.  Influenced by trad jazz players, Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk and Gil Evans, Mr. Lacy composes and improvises with a quirky sense of melody unlike any other player around at the time or since, and his compositions reveal his very personal way of telling his stories. His staccato yet fluid attack, and almost vibrato-less legato stands out within the history of his axe. He has made many, many records (hundreds) and almost each one has its own individual sound and ultimate expression. Straight up swing to musique concrete to free improvisation are where Steve could be found at any moment, often simultaneously. His accompanists range from sitar duos to big band improv to sax/synthesizer/ drum outings, exploring all avenues of audible art. He also made many solo concerts, with just his soprano sax perhaps speaking the musical dialog about what was shaking at the moment. These concerts and recordings are a wonderful document of this artist’s creative depth.

I am fortunate to have met Steve when I had an in-store appearance with him while I was managing Rasputin’s Jazz and Soul record store in Berkeley, California in 1981. Steve is second from left, just to my right in this photo of that day (Rick Gillman far left, Lacy, Frystak, Michael Finney far right).

A kind and soft spoken personality belied his passionate, forward surging playing style.  His many bay-area fans that day were in heaven to be near this musical icon, myself included. He played later in the evening at U.C.Berkeley to a packed house. Steve passed in 2004 at age 69 years young, and I was fortunate to see him play multiple times, always searching and swinging in whatever context he found himself in.

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Divine Discs of the Electronic Continuum

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 13, 2012 02:28pm | Post a Comment


I am a searcher, never quite satisfied with music and sounds that already exist. There are many like myself out there. I am consistently persuing electronics-based records like these herein that testify to the pioneering spirit of those musicians, composers and scientists in search of the newest “musical “sounds available via technology of all levels of sophistication. Throughout history the primitive object or idea will lead the way to a monumentally sophisticated one, and visa-versa, as long as one is paying attention. Take thefuzzbox for example. That thing lead a revolution of little boxes that one plugs one’s instrument into to get big, wild (and conversely subtle) effects on said instrument ranging from fuzzy distortion to multiple octave voices to…God knows what now, huge racks of processing gear for a single riff.  At the same time in another part of the culture, Joel Chadabeguys and gals in long white lab coats were fiddling with room-sized computers to get a single tone that was not produced by a musical instrument, but alas, hallehlujah, a machine did it! And other folks were stringing audio tape across rooms and cutting inches of tape recordings to compose new recordings (Musique Concrete) to make other recordings to manipulate and, well, you get it.

The sense of experimentation and the ability to manifest those ideas has never left the true creative artist. There are sonic “searchers” among us that will never be satisfied with what already exists in the known sound worlds, and it is this motivation that fuels records like these. The daring ones, without concern of peer’s criticisms or naysayer’s pessimism, have forged ahead with whatever tools available to take these ideas and run with…no, FLY with them to the edges of reality.

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Private Pressings Go Public

Posted by Rick Frystak, January 31, 2012 02:05pm | Post a Comment
Anyone who wants to can make an LP record! Yes, anybody, and it’s always been like that. Why can’t the world hear your creativity? Break out of those bedroom studios and living rooms and lounges and let the people know of your greatness! Why work all your life on your axe and never be heard by the masses? Who needs to wait for a major label to sign you to a rip-off contact? Call ACME Records and they’ll make a short-run pressing for you if you have the dough.  

Vanity pressings and small labels have always floated just under the surface of the platters you’d see in Billboard. My friends made some back in those days. Faces filled of hope, fame and just plain good-old personal righteousness. Words like “Real People”, “Outsider”, “Loner Folk”, “Xain Psych”, and “Steakhouse pressing” are just some of the many tags tossed about now about this history. And they’re filled with samples galore if you dig that sort of thing. Who doesn’t need a 5-second turnaround out of a live version of “Raindrops Are Fallin’ On My Head”?

These are not the Holy-Grail garage records. These aren’t the $1000 regional soul records. Just “real people" doing hard work and craft, and they're all available on Amoeba’s site to the first-come! Just click the title and see if they’re still there.  
 
 
Steve Jolliffe
Steve Jolliffe

Journeys Out Of The Body
Nada Pulse Records U.K. 1983

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2011: That Which Doesn't Kill Us Makes Things Longer

Posted by Job O Brother, December 13, 2011 11:03am | Post a Comment
vintage father time
"Why couldn't I have been the year with Obamacare?"

Oh, 2011! Can it be it’s only been a year since I knew ye? This was a year of firsts: The first time I had a kitten who liked to lick new, clean plastic with an almost fetishistic zeal; the first year I lived in Los Angeles without working the floor at my beloved Amoeba Music Hollywood (I miss you, desperate holiday shoppers!); the first year I grew more than one grey hair at the same time (I blame you, traffic on Fairfax!)

It was also the year I suddenly, and without any obvious explanation, decided I loved and wanted to see any and all films of the horror genre. This came as a surprise to me. My boyfriend accuses me often of only liking films where nothing ever happens – preferably with a lone clock ticking in the corner of an otherwise quiet room. It annoys me when he claims this, mostly because I cannot defend myself.

The horror section in Amoeba Music’s DVD section provided me with many hours of happy judging-a-book-by-its-cover moments. Some gems I was hypnotized by were…

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More Journeys Off the Beaten Track

Posted by Rick Frystak, November 29, 2011 04:44pm | Post a Comment

Peter Michael Hamel
Hamel
Vertigo 6641 055, 1972

2-Lp set on German Vertigo circa 1972 brings us a spiritual journey of minimalism and creative spark, alone in the studio…tape running and overdubbing, often not listening to the previously recorded material. Hamel was doing multi-tracked organ, synths, piano and percussion in Germany at the same time as Riley, Glass and those guys were, quite forward-thinking. He worked with maestros Joseph Anton Reidl and Luc Ferrari, but never went in that conrete’ or collage direction as a style musically. Terry Riley is still doing live organ pieces just like these herein, and classical composers have struggled with this style for decades. Here in these discs we have 2 luscious sides of organ and synthesizer pieces with each instrument “beating” or modulating the other, simple rooted tones yet always moving with melody and logic; 1 side of prepared piano with a Cage influence, yet Hamel shows his prog/pop and Indonesian gamelan inclinations rhythmically and tonally. Nice! The last side is synthesizer overdubs with water and breath sounds, owing to Hamel’s heavy spiritual side and his immersion in this new minimalism. This record is still fresh now, and vibrates with a wonderful, contemporary accessibility and creative spark even after nearly 40 years. And this 2-disc set on Vertigo vinyl is rarer than a 2-dollar bill at this point.

 

Pat Martino

Strings!
 

Prestige 7547, 1968

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