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on life, music etc beyond mainstream

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Yr – ***1/2

Northern Song – ****1/2

Safe Journey – ****1/2

Exploded View – ****

Big Map Idea  – *****

The Fall Of Us All – *****

A Man About A Horse – *****

Natural Causes – ****

Life Of – *****

 

My personal rating „downbeat style“ of his ECM-released albums. When I was meeting Steve Tibbetts in Germany, early in the 90‘s, he didn‘t have the nicest thoughts on „Exploded View“, musically, called it a result of times of upheaval. Well, musicians are not always the best critics of their own works. I always liked „Exploded View“ very much. (M.E.)

 

Instead of conjuring other worlds, Tibbetts has spent the past 40 years trying to figure out what this one sounds like in its entirety – a quiet, noble quest for one of the most underappreciated musicians of our time. Across the 1980s, during an extraordinary four-album run for the legendary jazz label ECM, the Minneapolis guitarist was using percussion, electronics and his 12-string acoustic guitar to make highly evocative music with astonishing nuance. Tibbetts was deeply interested in the rhythms of Africa, India and Asia, but the worldliness of his recordings always felt like a mysterious mix of scientific exploration and spiritual quest more than a tourist’s flirtation.

Tibbetts’ exquisite new album, “Life Of,” is easily the most elegant of his career. Accompanied by longtime percussionist Marc Anderson and cellist Michelle Kinney, Tibbetts plays only with his fingertips – no pick – applying both hands to his fretboard, making his notes gently drip and streak.

Instead of advancing forward, this music simply obeys gravity. Forget about jazz, forget about guitars. “Life Of” should make beautiful sense to anyone on this vast and unknowable Earth who’s ever spent time listening to the rain.

(Chris Richards, The Washington Post)

 
 

 
 

2018 22 Mai

„As Good As New“

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„It may not be their gloomiest album (that would be the disco Ingmar Bergmans’ melancholic swansong, The Visitors); but Voulez-Vous is surely, beneath its mirror-ball glitz, the bleakest, a catalogue of empty trysts, seedy nightlife and emotional manipulation. Thus its opening number is something of a bait and switch – like reversed film footage of a building demolition, it turns around the more familiar ABBA story of what felt like real love crumbling into disaster. For once all that brightness and breeziness is borne out in the lyric: I was dreadful, but now I’m better, and I know the value of true love.“

(D.B., from The Quietus‘s retrospective on quite special ABBA songs, a band that has been so much more than a singles band)

2018 22 Mai

Die Worte des Raben

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Träum ich oder wach ich, die Frage stellte sich mir, als der Rabe anfing zu reden. Der Einstieg in den luziden Traum. Es gibt Lutheraner, Kantianer, Freudianer, U2-  und Bayernfans, ich bin Tholeyaner. Kein anderer als Prof. Paul Tholey führte mich in die Welt des Klarträumens ein. Sein Buch damals, erschienen im Falken- Verlag, war ein Gegenmittel gegen alle Bewusstseinsverengungen, denen man im Laufe eines Lebens anheimfallen kann: amour fous, Obstdiebinnen, Osho, TM, Scientology, Rotary. Man musste es nur zu händeln wissen. Unfassbar, wie vermeintlich aufgeschlossene Wesen sich Sekten und Rattenfängern an den Hals schmissen und schmeissen, deren einziger Trick (wenn nicht gleich rundum debil) darin bestand, uralte Systeme zum Aufschliessen anderer Horizonte durch diffuse Ideologien ins Reaktionäre zu kippen. Antfaschismus ist eine toughe Halterung des Geistes. 

Interessant, dass es auch im Feld der Handbücher zum luziden Träumen solche Fallen gibt, wenn Autoren ins wilde Schwärmen geraten (Regression) oder ihre Religionshörigkeit ausleben. Umso erfreulicher, dass der Goldmann-Verlag die didaktisch beste Anleitung zum Luziden Träumen herausgebracht hat, die ich je gelesen habe. Fein geschrieben, so federleicht, dass man beim Lesen nicht allzu schnell ahnt, was für Tiefen und Weiten da locken. Eine wundervolle, geistreiche Verführung, im Traum zu klarem Bewusstsein zu gelangen. Und das ist ja erst der Anfang. Meine uneingeschränkte Empfehlung – Dylan Tuccillo, Jared Zeizel und Thomas Peisel: KLARTRÄUMEN. Ich vergass die Worte des Raben: drrrrroohhhhhngggggg baaarrrrruhhhhh driiiiiiiiillliiii. Diese Vögel sind schlau und wissen, wie man dem Kreislauf der Gedanken entkommt.

 

2018 21 Mai

nice bicycle tour

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50.2929 , 11.1512      Mupperg

 

 
 
 

50.3218 , 10.9054         Meeder

 


 
 
 

2018 20 Mai

Vortex

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Vortex: Als Wirbel oder Vortex bezeichnet man in der Strömungslehre eine drehende Bewegung von Fluidelementen um eine gerade oder geschwungene Drehachse. Der Begriff des Wirbels ist eher intuitiv und mathematisch nicht präzise formulierbar. Die Wirbelstärke ist im Zentrum groß und fast null im äußeren Bereich des Wirbels, umgekehrt verhält es sich mit dem Druck, der im Zentrum am niedrigsten ist. Wirbel neigen dazu ausgedehnte Wirbelröhren auszubilden, die sich mit der Strömung mitbewegen, sich winden, biegen und strecken können. (Wikipedia)

 
 

Der karmesinfarbene König rutschte etwas auf seinem Thron zu Seite und neigte sich leicht nach vorne, weil es sich in dieser Lage besser wiederkäuen ließ. Fast teilnahmslos starrte er dabei in die Ferne, die zeitlich ziemlich weit hinter ihm zu liegen schien. Dabei erinnerte er in tragischer Weise an König Theoderich aus dem Herrn der Ringe, als er sich unter dem zersetzenden Einfluß des finsteren Schlangenzunge befand. Wahrscheinlich zog er gerade den Inhalt seines 7. Magens nach oben und fand sonderbarerweise im Schalen immer noch etwas Geschmack daran. Draußen, an den Mauern spielten drei Trommler. Das gefiel ihm und drinnen versuchte gerade ein blasser Barde mit seinem farblosen Gesang ihm das Wiederkäuen zu verschönern. Eine wahrhaft tragische Entwicklung – Fists down!

 

Polymetrische minimal Grooves sind eines der besten Mittel, um einen musikalischen Strom zu einem Wirbel werden zu lassen. Zu einem Sog, fast einem Mahlstrom. Diesen Weg verfolgt die Schweizer Gruppe um den Gitarristen Stephen ThelenSonar, bereits seit einigen Jahren. Mit tritonal gestimmten Gitarren, einer Menge neuer Ideen und komplexen Rhythmen machten sie sich auf die Suche nach einem Produzenten für ihre Ideen und kamen so über Henry Kaiser an David Torn, mit dem sich sofort ein energetisches Bündnis entwickelte, bei dem die grüne Fee wohl auch ausgiebigstens Pate stand.

 

Mit Part 44, einem kaum wiederzuerkennenden Don Li-Cover beginnt die Eskalation gleich von Anfang an. Das hört sich frisch an, wie King Crimson zu seinen besten Zeiten, bis der minimalistische Vortrieb durch David Torn’s Einsatz einen heftigen Energieschub erhält. Und schon hebt das Ganze in deutlicher Rotverschiebung (Red Shift) ab, zerlegt sich in Waves and Particles, türmt sich auf zum Monolithen, treibt voran und in den großen Wirbel hinein, Vortex, um schließlich mit klarem Blick mitten ins Gesicht (Lookface!) zu enden. Ja, schau mir in die Augen, alter König, wirf den alten Ranz fort und besinne dich deiner Kreativität, wenn du dies vielleicht hören solltest! Klingt vielleicht ein bisschen so, als ob man Nik Bärtsch, der kürzlich mit Awase wieder ein wunderbares Album veröffentlicht hat, ein paar E-Gitarren in die Hand gedrückt hätte und gebeten, ein paar alte King Crimson-Klassiker durch den Fleischwolf zu verwirbeln. Frisch, hypnotisch, eskalativ.

 
 
 

 

 

„What a wonderful book. Part essay, part travelogue with a smattering of fiction, it’s an indescribable blend of humor, sadness, quirk and love. Author Julio Cortázar cooked up a plan with his second wife Carol Dunlop to drive from Paris to Marseilles in their VW bus nicknamed Fafner, the dragon. The catch is, they stopped at every single rest-stop along the way at the count of two per day, sleeping over night at the second one. This book chronicles their thoughts and notes throughout the journey. It really is a wonderful book, demonstrating how despite such odd circumstances Cortázar and Dunlop found great joy escaping the world, being not utterly isolated but separated from their responsibilities and obligations. Instead, they focused on each other, on reading, writing and observing.

Love, and the joy of their togetherness, was a major theme expressed throughout the story. Physical and emotional love. Their affection is so gentle and so poetic, reading it is near meditative in quality.

In the end, they summarize the journey, as unintentionally a Zen expedition. They set off not knowing what they would find and what they found was the beauty of existence even in the most absurd of situations. Touring rest areas.“

(Peter Katzman)

 


 
 
 

 
 
 

This all happens today. And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow. Oh, that song. „Goddess on the Highway“, from Mercury Rev. Greetings from one of my beloved „Missions Impossible“, I‘m heading to Grainau, will arrive tonite. It‘s a small archetypal Bavarian village at the „Zugspitze“, the highest mountain of Germany, south of München. A special psychological task force at work. And back to the lucid dreaming camp anyway. No goddess in my car, but a bag of apples and mineral water for the road. And memories I‘m so fond of: Julio Cortazar‘s strange holidays with Carol Dunlop. Let‘s believe in happy endings, and the mountain goats of Grainau. Or is it Greinau, I‘m a stranger here. Die Berge erscheinen mir Freund des Meeres ein wenig unheimlich, bei der Anreise. I‘m traveling without my true Amazon, so I can be booked for psychological advice and campfire stories.

 

 

 
 
 

(This is the 2nd article in a series of pieces devoted to jazz pianists I consider to be highly underrated: )

 

The first time I saw Art Lande with the Rubisa Patrol was in of all places, Cotati California, a small college town about 45 minutes from San Francisco. I had brought my fiancée and was sitting with her in the legendary Inn of Beginning, trying to explain to her what she was about to hear. I remember telling her that the music was lyrical, but there was also an unpredictable wackiness in his approach, and at times his music could get very weird. A few minutes later Art and the band appeared on stage. This was the original ECM band consisting of Bill Douglas on bass, Mark Isham (who went on to become a solo artist and well known film composer,) on trumpet, and Glen Cronkite on drums. Art was sitting at this old, funky upright piano on the stage where rock greats such as Neil Young and Van Morrison had recently made impromptu appearances. Art turned to the small audience and said, “I’m Art Lande, this is the Rubisa Patrol, and I hope this music isn’t too weird for YOU!” And he pointed right at my fiancée. 

 

What I most remember from that night is Bill and Mark playing a duet on two shakahachis, which suddenly morphed into a samurai sword fight. At one point the music was so fierce, the keyboard lid fell, almost squashing Art’s hands. Art immediately responded by deliberately banging the lid up and down as a kind of impromptu percussion instrument. This clever adaptation captures the essence of the man, who is able to be present and creatively respond  to musical happenstance with lightening quick reflexes.

 

Although I never took a formal lesson from him, Art has been a kind of mentor to me over the years. I have probably seen him live more than any other pianist. In fact, I just saw him play a marvelous Mothers Day concert last Sunday with the irrepressible singer/songwriter Kate McGarry and her guitarist husband, Keith Ganz, (who has to be one of the most underrated guitarists on the planet- check them out.)

 

What draws me to Art’s playing is his originality and spontaneity. I’ve listened to the man live and on record for over 40 years, and I don’t think I’ve heard a single “lick.” If one goes all the way back to his (vinyl only) first release, The Eccentricities of Earl Dant (an anagram of his name,) one finds his original style already evolved to the point of being recognizable as pure Lande: the lyricism, the idiosyncratic humor, the rhythmic drive, odd clusters, lines that dance, swirl and unexpectedly veer towards the edge of tonality, yet always evincing the trademark warmth and humanity that makes Art so unique. 

 

His harmonic concept is obviously influenced by Monk as well as Bill Evans, but equally influenced by classical composers, such as Bartok, Bach and Debussy, not to mention his studies with composer/performer/writer, W.A Mathieu. He is listed in Wikipedia as one of the founders of what is known as “chamber jazz.” Knowing Art, I’m sure he would hate that label, because it truly limits the scope of his musical curiosity and invention, which has led him down many paths, often away from the ECM sound he was most known for in the late 70s. 

 

Art only made a few albums for ECM. The first was a duet album with Jan Garbarek. Red Lanta (1974 – the title is another anagram of Arts name,) is a landmark album in the classic chamber jazz mold. The tunes are airy and light on the surface, yet reveal hidden depths –  this intimate recording captures a casual rapport between these two great players, both of whom had a signature sound right out of the gate. Years after it’s release, upon mentioning the album to Art, and telling him how much it meant to me, his response was, “Oh, that old thing?” 

 

The two Rubisa Patrol albums are ECM classics. The writing is mostly Art’s, and it certainly fits into the chamber jazz setting. After that, Art was the featured pianist on Gary Peacock’s Shift in the Wind, a trio album with drummer Elliot Zigmund. A far more energetic album with some free play interspersed with Gary and Art’s compositions, I consider it to be among the best trio albums in the early ECM catalog. There was also an experimental record with Mark Isham, entitled We Begin. Combining Art’s piano with Mark Isham’s trumpet and synthesizer skills, it’s somewhat of an oddity, but one that grows on the listener with repeated plays – in retrospect, while the 80s synth sounds date it somewhat, it’s still a very forward looking recording in many respects.

 

I consider the album, Skylight to be one of the finest examples of “chamber jazz” in the entire ECM catalog. Here the trio, consisting of Lande, Paul McCandless and vibist Dave Samuels pick up where they left off on McCandless’s first solo release, All the Mornings Bring (Vanguard – a great recording, finally released on CD), with more of the same: superb compositions and incredibly intuitive ensemble playing. I consider both of these albums to be essential listening in this genre. 

 

Seeing Art live, one never knows what to expect. Back in the late 70s, Art would sometimes hold court at the Great American Music Hall for several nights, each night having a different theme. One night it was lyrical duets with Paul McCandless (it’s amazing that after decades of performing together as a duo, Paul and Art have yet to release a duet album), the next, the Rubisa Patrol playing nothing but waltzes. Another night there were mattresses and blankets on the floor; the lights were down low onstage and everyone in the band was lying down. Occasionally, a somnambulant figure would rise in the darkness and sleepwalk to an instrument – slow abstract lullabies emerged. 

 

Art is also a literary kind of guy. He often reads poetry aloud while improvising. Sometimes, he just makes stuff up. I remember a night where he told a spontaneous tale of an alien sneaking into a house and raiding the fridge- his alien voice was hysterical. On rare occasions he has been known to sing one of his own humorous and quirky songs.

 

Eventually Art left the Bay Area for Switzerland where he was active as a teacher and performer for a number of years. For some reason that period isn’t documented by any recordings I am aware of. He was no longer with a label at that point – in fact he has continued to be an independent artist to this day. Art eventually returned to the states where he made his home in Boulder Colorado. At 71, he has been more active than ever – he currently plays in at least 6 bands and still records and tours regularly.

 

Art likes to pair up with young musicians – occasionally as the drummer rather than pianist. One such band is called the Russian Dragon Band (Rushing/Dragging – a drummers joke?) Another group with Art in the drummer’s seat is the Boy Girl Band, a group entirely  devoted to playing completely improvised music.  He is also featured on drums in the experimental group Funko Moderno, a postmodern band that plays music that supposedly originates in the fictitious country of “Italavia.” It’s a premise that allows for funk, bebop, tongue in cheek jazz themes and Slavic music influences to collide in unpredictable ways.  

 

Art also guests on countless albums. One such example is Sioux Country, by sax player/educator Pete Sommers – It is a fine duo album. Featuring Pete’s compositions, it’s not unlike Red Lanta in tone, although it feels distinctly American, coming as it is from the southwest. Art also has an ongoing series of free improvisation recordings with sax player, Mark Miller. Seeing the two together live, one can expect an evening of musical mayhem. Occasionally, Art will whip out his trusty melodica and perform as a 2nd horn player. The two are good friends – it’s an anything goes musical situation that often becomes comically theatrical.

 

Art has also had a special musical relationship with French/Vietnamese guitarist/composer Nguyen Le. Appearing in the mid 80s on both of Le’s first two albums (Universal – both excellent) , Miracles and Zanzibar (with Paul McCandless), and his superb ACT recording, Walking on the Tiger’s Tail (also with McCandless,) there is an electric current running between these two distinctly unique artists – their highly contrasting styles and temperaments seem to bring out the best in one another. In 2008, while recovering from a bad breakup, I took a trip to the southwest where I followed Art and Nguyen Le on their mini tour of the Southwest. The first concert of the tour was a house concert in Boulder. I remember sitting in a small living room crammed with around 12 guests, looking at a grand piano and next to it, an electric guitar, a MacBook Pro on a music stand and on the floor, a pedalboard filled with blinking lights – I asked myself, “How on earth is this going to work?” What followed was a surprising mix of atmospheric sounds, ambient jazz, and world music. It was a magnificent, unforgettable performance. 

 

That’s the thing about Art Lande: he has an insatiable musical curiosity. His work embodies the perfect balance of freedom and form. He supports creativity in others and loves to collaborate. His collaborations even go beyond his musical associations: In 2011, with the help of two graphic artists and an editor/writer, he created his own tarot deck. The “Art tarot” is the fruit of decades of study and 6 years of development. The goal was to strip away the medieval archaisms of the original decks, cutting to the essence of the archetypes and energies represented by each card. If you’re interested in tarot as a tool for self transformation, it’s worth tracking down. 

 

Art’s albums are worth tracking down as well. Unfortunately, they’re  not always easy to find. Art cares not a whit about self promotion. He never speaks of new releases – he doesn’t use the internet at all. The only way to find new music by this artist is to visit his website (which he proclaims he has nothing to do with,) or do a Google search. Besides the ones mentioned in the article, I also recommend checking out the following:

 

Melissa Spins Away (vinyl only,) Great American Music Hall label, solo piano (an album of jazz waltzes – gorgeous.)

Friday the 13th- Vartan Jazz, music of Monk-solo piano  (very cool album- was supposed to be a live album but something went wrong and wound up recorded live in the studio.)

Shapeshifter- Synergy Music- original compositions, with Paul McCandless, Peter Barshay and Alan Hall

Recurring Dream – Mike McGinnis with Art and Steve Swallow (they just released a followup album)

Nemesis- Songlines- Mark Nodwell, Drew Greiss, Tom Rainey, Doug Young, Ron Miles (Marc Nodwell’s compositions are notable and it’s an SACD)

Polar Opposites- Dave Peterson guitar, Art Lande piano (good guitar player, nice tunes. Mostly duos, but I think theres a rhythm section on a few tunes as well.)

For a complete discography of Art’s recordings both as leader and sideman, including the aforementioned bands and albums, (some of which are only available as download on his site) and touring schedule, check out www.artlande.com 

 

Hintersinnig und hinterhumorig ohnegleichen. Jetzt schon eine meiner Lieblingsplatten 2018. Das vierte Opus imaginärer Standards bietet immerhin ein paar Jazzspuren mehr als die vorangegangenen Werke, aber immer noch steng dosiert. Der Kopf des Unternehmens ist Bill Wells, Pianist und Kreativverwalter eines Sample-Archivs. Er sucht und findet, ein ums andere Mal, die unerschöpflichen  Nebenwirkungen der  Reduktion. Die  Leadsängerin ist Kate Sugden, eine Vokalistin, die sich keinen Deut um Expressivität schert und schlicht dem Schlichten traut, dem Elementaren, seinen doppelten Böden. Man stelle sie in eine Traditionslinie mit Alison Statton, Karen Mantler und Astrud Gilberto. Und die Spielerin des Cellos, Aby Vulliamy? Wow – nur dieser Ausruf – auch der Rezensent probt Zurückhaltung. Ein perfekt durchgestalteter Songzyklus, kein Ton zuviel. Wir könnten noch über die Dunkelheit reden,  die Räume der Kindheit, eine Abrechung mit Frohsinn a la Sinatra, die Überwindung der Nacht im Geiste des Bossa Nova, und die Kunst des Crescendos. Irgendwann später mal. Robert Wyatt würde, da halte ich jede Wette, dieses Album lieben.

 


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