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Last Dream of the Morning: Mark Sanders (dr), John Edwards (b), John Butcher (ss)

Schorndorf, October 2023

Rieko Okuda (p), Conny Bauer (t), Willi Kellers (d)

Industriesalon Schoeneweide, Berlin. September 2023

Stephen Grew (p) and Trevor Watts (s)

Exploratorium, Berlin. September 2023

The Circle 5.0: Hans Peter Hiby (as,ts), John Dikeman (ts), Reza Askarii (b), Willi Kellers (dr), Shoji Hano (dr)

Schorndorf, Manufaktur. September 2023

Roman Stolyar (p), Camila Nebbia (s), Rocia O'Dezaille Cambours (d)

Kühlspot, Berlin, August 2023

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Bernard Santacruz - Sunday interview

Photo by Chris Boyer
  1. What is your greatest joy in improvised music?

    I can think of three kinds: firstly, meeting again with old accomplices with whom it is possible to continue exploring the music further with complete trust. Secondly, ephemeral encounters where everything can be discovered in the moment and where the language is created collectively. Both are based on communication and sharing. Thirdly, the solo experience and confrontation with oneself, a kind of meditation, mental and sonic drifting.

  2. What quality do you most admire in the musicians you play with?

    There are many, but the first is creativity, followed by availability, a willingness to take risks and a spirit of sharing.

  3.  Which historical musician/composer do you admire the most?

    Without hesitation, Igor Stravinsky. It's all there: the relationship to rhythm, harmony and its frictions, and colours.

  4. If you could resurrect a musician to perform with, who would it be?

    Certainly Siegfried Kessler.

  5. What would you still like to achieve musically in your life?

    To continue doing what I've done since the beginning, trying to improve my musical outlook, sound, thinking and the way I relate with others.

  6. Are you interested in popular music and – if yes – what music/artist do you particularly like?

    I am passionate about what we used to call "Black music" when I was a teenager. Particularly the Stax and Motown labels, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Temptations, Booker T. etc.

  7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    For a long time I was plagued by self-doubt and hampered by excessive shyness, but that all got better with time and a succession of collaborations with artists who put their trust in me. Today, I wouldn't want to change much.

  8. Which of your albums are you most proud of?

    There's one album I'm very fond of for many reasons : After The Demon's Leaving, which we recorded with Frank Lowe and Denis Charles in 1996.

  9. Once an album of yours is released, do you still listen to it? And how often?

    Most of the time, I spend a huge amount of time listening and re-listening to the music once it's been recorded, right up until the album's release. Sometimes I like to immerse in it again years later.

  10. Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life?

    The piece I've listened to the most is Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" in several versions, and there are always new ones. The last two that captivated me were by Esa Pekka Salonen and Klaus Mäkelä.

  11. What are you listening to at the moment?

    Penderecki's Cello Concerto N°2, which I discovered recently. You have to see the appetite with which Mstislav Rostropovitch throws himself into the composition; it's very physical and magical.

  12. What artists outside music inspire you?

    For some years now, I've been immersed in reading Erri de Lucca, a sensitive and ardent Italian writer. The paintings of Kandinsky and Picabia, the dances of Carolyn Carlson and Carlotta Ikeda, and the films of Tarkovsky and Cassavetes are inexhaustible sources of inspiration for me. 


Reviews with Bernard Santacruz on the Free Jazz Blog:




Saturday, December 9, 2023

Against Empire: an Interview with Bill Laswell

Bill Laswell. Photo by Ziga Koritnik

By Paul Acquaro and David Cristol

Both David and I have seen Bill Laswell perform a few times. For me, once at the old Stone in NYC and once at the A'LARME Festival in Berlin, and for David, starting in 2003, seeing Material in France, then Massacre at Lisbon’s Jazz em Agosto, and in Milano in 2018 in duet with John Zorn – and each time he was a stoic, somewhat ghostly, musically giant presence. His influence in modern music is, to me, similar. Whether as a player or producer, what he touches bears his sonic imprint, expressed in the sound of the drums, and of course, the bass, with elements of dub, funk, ambient and even a bit of jazz. From his discographic beginnings in the downtown New York scene in the late 1970s with Material and Massacre, and working with, among many others, Brian Eno, Ginger Baker, Laurie Anderson, Fred Frith and John Zorn, he has created his own musical universe.

While a career breakthrough was, of course, creating 'RockIt' with Herbie Hancock in the early 1980s, introducing the world to "electro-funk," the credits really go on and on. (For a more comprehensive listing, check out the Laswell discography at Dave Brunelle’s website silent-watcher.) Laswell's reconstruction of Miles Davis' electric music, Panthalassa, is a desert island disc. His vision for Davis' electric music, presented as fluid suite, flowed through my ears and cut new pathways in my brain. Filling these pathways was then the music of Arcana, with Derek Bailey, Tony Williams and later Nicky Skopelitis and Buckethead as well as Last Exit, with Peter Brötzmann, Ronald Shannon Jackson and Sonny Sharrock.

Photo by Ziga Koritnik
In 2020, Laswell released Against Empire, a stunning atmospheric album with contributions from Pharaoh Sanders and Hancock. A duo album with John Zorn, Memoria, came out this year - essentially a freely improvised meeting of two friends and masterful musicians. However, Laswell's ability to work in recent years has been greatly impacted by health issues. A Go-Fund-Me was established in 2018 to help him with maintaining his famous Orange Studio and continues to provide support for him as he manages his health. Additionally, a new subscription effort through Bandcamp, BASSMATTER, was launched in 2020 to make music from his wide-ranging recorded corpus available.

Earlier this fall, we had an opportunity to chat with Laswell from his home in Inwood, New York City, where he is recuperating and continuing his mixing and production work, to talk about some of the music that can found on the Bandcamp site, as well upcoming work, and a bit more. In addition, some of his colleagues from over the years, namely Bachir Attar, Hamid Drake, Kristo Rodzevski, Akira Sakata, Wadada Leo Smith, John Zorn, as well as Slovenian photographer Ziga Koritnik, share some thoughts.


The Interview

Free Jazz Blog: I'd like to start asking how are you doing? We know that you've been dealing with some health and other issues with the studio, but at the same time, you're keen on writing another chapter.

Bill Laswell: Well, yeah, I think I can get one more.

FJB: What would you like to see in there?

BL: I just want to continue. There's a lot of records that I've done that need to come out. We have to work on that. And I have wanted to do a lot of drum and bass records without so much music. Just rhythm. There are a few key people that I would work with and want to work with. But again, there's quite a few things in the can that should come out soon.

FJB: About some recent and upcoming projects. In 2020 you started getting a dazzling number of unreleased live recordings out there, from different eras and bands that you had organized.

BL: Yeah, that's still going on. It's on Bandcamp. Why do you do music in the first place? It's so people can hear it. And there is a kind of base of people that want to hear it, so, you know, I keep digging it out and we put it on Bandcamp and there's a subscription that gives access to it. You can get all that stuff from digital places.

FJB: Yeah, the subscription model is interesting. How has that been working for you?

BL: I don't monitor it so much, but I think it's going OK. It's not really selling because the thing is, it's more to do with people getting access to things that they would normally not have heard. I'm glad that people hear it and it's a good document and it measures history in a way. I like the idea.

FJB: How many recordings would you say you have unreleased?

BL: Not many. I have the things that are finished and that will be coming out soon. That's unreleased as of now. But I don't keep a lot of things around that are unreleased. I try to use all.

FJB: As you have gone back to the vaults, were there any projects that you heard differently than you remembered?

BL: All of them, you know, it’s a long time ago. There's a lot of music there and a lot of live recordings. I don't go back to my vault because I don't have a vault. And I don't know how to go back, so…

FJB: I’d like to ask about an upcoming album with The Last Poets...

BL: It should come out soon. Pharoah Sanders played on it. I've worked with The Last Poets for many years. A few years ago, I said let's make a record and go back to the original idea which is just rhythm, percussion and voice and then add a few sounds from Pharoah and Graham Haynes. And that's how this happened. The Poets have done a lot of releases, with bands and one was reggae, one was kind of fusion… We did one that was heavily funk-influenced, Holy Terror, back in the 90s. I wanted to go back to the original source, reel it in and bring it back to this kind of African concept, rhythm and voice for the most part.

FJB: What about other upcoming albums?

BL: I also have Massacre live in Japan. And one with Sam Morrison, who played with Miles Davis. That's a really good record. And I want to do this project with Ginger Baker. Of course he's gone; but we have tapes. And the Revelator band with Peter Apfelbaum, Will Bernard and Aaron Johnston. I really want to do something with Sly Dunbar again. We've been in touch.

FJB: On Memoria, a recent recording you did with John Zorn, the titles are dedicated to Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders, Milford Graves. What connects these artists, besides that you worked with them?

BL: Not everything needs to connect, but it often does. These are human beings. They live on the earth. They make their contributions or they don't. And you know, these guys did a lot. And we just mentioned their names. Because of their willingness and openness to give and to share and to bring all this music to the world and they all did. So, it's just congratulations to them.

FJB: It's very intense and has a lot of texture to it. You have a long-standing collaboration with John Zorn, of course. What has helped create that connection?

BL: It’s been many years, yeah. We couldn't be more different in terms of music, but there's a level of intelligence that I find in him and some of the things that we value are similar, but it's not from music so much. It's writers and painters, film makers, that connection and not so much music. We come from very different backgrounds. And it's always been kind of interesting to me to do that.

FJB: You've done a lot of work in recent years with trumpet players Wadada Leo Smith and Dave Douglas…

Sacred Ceremonies
BL: Wadada called me and I did a lot of things with him, we didn't tour anywhere but we played a little bit in New York. And we did a few records and it was always good for me. Dave Douglas, I met through Zorn and we did a recording with Louie Belogenis and Tyshawn Sorey [“Blue Buddah”, on Tzadik]. Also a live recording with Dave and drummer Hideo Yamaki, “The Drawing Center” [released in Japan, 2017]. And he invited me on some recordings [“Uplift”, Greenleaf, 2018] and a short tour in Europe [with Mary Halvorson, Jon Irabagon, Rafiq Bathia, Ian Chang and Ches Smith] . I'm grateful I am able to do it, because I'm not a jazz musician. They don't put down the sheet music and I play the charts, nothing like that, but I enjoy being in those bands where I have no idea what they're doing and I just sort of play along.

FJB: Then you must have an amazing intuitive feel!

BL: Well, I hope. I hope that's the case.

FJB: What about a trio like “On Common Ground” with Mike Sopko and Tyshawn Sorey? With a group like that, do you have a concept beforehand, or is it improvised?

BL: That was Mike Sopko’s idea, he had the drummer and he wanted to do a record. We did it very quickly, and I enjoyed working with them. I'm sure Mike has a concept, but I don't. I don't like to put music into these designs. That's why I like to play in these bands where they have structured music, written music and I just sort of try to make it work for myself. I like that a lot. With Zorn it is all always improv but with other people, they have their own music and I just kind of improvise around what they have, finding my way into the music.

FJB: With John Zorn, how might that work? Would you start with a bassline, or an idea, or John would play something?

BL: You don't think like that, you just play and you know we've been doing that for so long that I think we have a repertoire, a language, and we just talk like that, with that language and bring back the memories and go forward into the future.

FJB: We’ve been talking about all these recordings that you're releasing and some other ones that have been released with Ulf Ivarsson, Kristo Rodzevski, Simon Berz, Monte Cimino, there's a whole bunch, a full spectrum of aesthetics from ambient to dub global to electronic and other styles. Do you enjoy juxtaposing so many styles?

BL: I'm existing, continuing, and trying to survive at the moment, but I don't see it as styles, and I certainly don't like the idea of juxtaposing them or juggling them. It's music to me. I have been lucky to have the time to understand, or misunderstand, the concept of sound. It's all about the sound. I don't play styles, I don't play genres, I don't play jazz. I play my repertoire, my language, my own poetry.

FJB: Earlier you were mentioning a recording of Massacre in Japan that you're planning to release.

BL: That should come soon. I don't know how everybody else feels, but I thought it was the best thing we ever did, and that's a heavy thing considering I started with Fred [Frith] in the late 70s. Charles Hayward described it as telepathy, like we were communicating on an outside of the space, outside of the environment that you're in, and he had it right, the word is telepathy.

FJB: About the creative process or just sort of how music develops like we've been discussing, I want to ask you about Against Empire your album from 2020. This one features a rich cast of musicians, with Pharoah Sanders, Peter Apfelbaum, even Herbie Hancock to some extent, and others. And the music is seamless, very fluid. How did this one come to be?

BL: I think that's an intuitive approach to production more than playing. Things come in from different angles. Like something someone played might have been five years before, and it all just collides, and when it's right, it just flows, and I felt really good about the work.

FJB: I feel it when listening to it, it's really a cohesive piece. Was there live playing or composition that went into this?

BL: A little of everything. It's improv, it's juxtaposing improv, and creating composition. It’s using technology to arrange music, to place it, tune it, make it relate. There is a certain degree of that there, but there's also just that you rely on your experience and your concept of freedom with sounds.

FJB: With all of the advances that we're hearing about and experiencing with artificial intelligence, do you see a place for it in music making?

BL: Absolutely. I don't know how, when or where, but of course.

FJB: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Rock It and the Future Shock album. That was an absolute paradigm shifter for everyone, mixing hip-hop and electronics and jazz in unique and new ways. I’m wondering just how you feel about this recording now, looking back on it?

BL: Well, I made it but you know, I don't think about it so much. When you’re in the process of creating it, you're not thinking, you're applying the means and the delivery of your current experience and it's spontaneous, and it all happens very quickly. If it doesn't happen quickly, it won't happen.

FJB: You then embarked on a much different adventure with Last Exit.

BL: Last Exit was a little later, from ‘86 to ‘89 on and off, and it was just a way to get away from pop music and obligations and record labels. It was kind of fun to do.

FJB: I think there was a little bit of a crossover? Herbie Hancock guested with Last Exit.

BL: In Japan, yeah, just one concert.

FJB: Regarding Last Exit, you worked with very strong personalities there, Peter Brötzmann, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Sonny Sharrock. What was the creative process like in the group?

BL: It was improvisation then. I had a band with Brötzmann and we were working with Fred Frith and Anton Fier, and there was a tour that came up, and both Fred and Anton were busy. I had been working with Shannon Jackson and I said, “well, why don't we keep Brötzmann and let's bring in Sonny Sharrock." We started in Europe playing festivals, it was pretty intense. We carried on with that for a few years.

FJB: You worked with Brötzmann and Pharoah Sanders and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Toshinori Kondo. Looking back, what was it like working with these folks?

BL: It was like friendship and camaraderie. They're your friends and you go out and you play and you hope people like it, then if they don't, so what? For the most part, it always worked. All those guys are dead. Sakamoto, Kondo. All of Last Exit.

FJB: Your last concerts were with Method of Defiance in early 2020. Do you miss playing live?

BL: Not so much. I don't miss flying on planes and taking a car to the hotel. I've been everywhere twice, so I don't need to go back. I'm good. I just need to try to record as much as I can. Performing live is a lot of work, and traveling is a lot of work.

FJB: Do you feel there's a big difference? Between what you get from playing live compared to what you do in the studio?

BL: It's not the same of course, but it's pretty connected, very much connected.

FJB: Are there any trends in music today that you find interesting?

BL: I used to listen to everything. I mean, absolutely everything. And lately not so much. And if I had to name 10 people that are great, that are doing good things, and are new, I probably wouldn't be able to do that. Nothing new is going to happen, but there are going to be great things coming, that's a definite, but are they new things? Something you haven't heard before? Everything that you're going to hear, you've heard before. It's just going to be in different contexts.

FJB: You've done a lot of recordings with percussionists and drummers like Hamid Drake, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams. Drummers are often at the forefront of your work, even Against Empire, which we spoke about, is built around four drummers. What is the importance of drums in your work?

BL: Well, you know, it's the foundation in most cases, so building on rhythm and it's usually the core foundation of building something. It depends on the drummer, if it's innovative drummers, you can really build on it. If it's just somebody playing a beat, doesn't really matter.

FJB: I would say that your approach down to mixing really brings the drums to the forefront, very clear. Is that something that you consciously developed or was it more intuitive?

BL: Both really. If it's innovative drumming, you want to hear every detail, so you bring it up and push it to the front.

FJB: You have produced hundreds of recordings in addition to your own projects. Are you very selective when you get involved with the process?

BL: I guess so, yeah, probably before I get involved. It depends on the work and who's involved. If it's for me, I look to just make it the best I can. I'm obliged to be in charge of something. If it's for someone else, I take a different approach, because everyone's got different opinions about it.

FJB: How much would you say you influence such projects, the ones that you are producing? And what might be the first thing you do when you get to work on a new project?

BL: Well, quite a bit, you know. Otherwise I wouldn't be there, or I wouldn't be needed really to do it. Everything is different, it depends on what the work is and everything is going to have a different beginning.

FJB: Do you often have a complete idea of what you think you'll end up with when you start?

BL: Sometimes I do, not always. But sometimes I do.

FJB: Looking over your Bandcamp site, something that caught my eye were the recordings of your Stone and other residencies. What do you recall from putting these together?

BL: Well, it's not curating work really. I got people involved that I respected or I thought were doing something good and, in some cases, just needed exposure.

FJB: Then in addition, there's the one called the Tokyo Rotation. Did these come from events that you organized as well?

BL: Well, that was the five years of where once a year, we would do a series of concerts in the same venue and it was all Japanese musicians and again picking people that I liked and that I worked with and I thought might be interested and you know it goes like that. A lot of great musicians played there, that impressed me.

FJB: Another thing that strikes me is all the different album covers. There's a real aesthetic sense. It's often a dark or mysterious imagery. How do you decide on the artwork? How do you conceive or think of it? Are there any recordings whose artwork you think really matches the music?

BL: Well, I hope that it fits the music and I have a lot of help with that. There's so many… Against Empire, Arcana with Tony Williams. But there's a lot, I can't just name two or three. Hundreds of them.

FJB: Going back to people you have worked with, one relationship I'd like to ask about is with Ornette Coleman. What was your relationship like?

BL: When I came to New York in the 70s, my kind of goal was to meet Ornette Coleman and maybe Miles Davis. And I met them both right away. With Ornette, he always lived kind of near where I was. I started going to his place and invite him to concerts I was doing and stayed in touch with him for a very long time. It was a good experience. We did play in his loft and I recorded everything, I'm going to release a record in the next year or two. Just bass and saxophone. We released a track a couple years ago. Ornette influenced me on just being independent and having your own idea, you own concept about sound and music, I guess that's the way it went.

FJB: Your creative path spans many different sound worlds and collaborations, likely contains many stories. Do you have any plans of working on an autobiography?

BL: No, but I would like to. I just have to have the right people involved. I don't have that at the moment, but there are a couple of people doing books and I hope they do the right thing.

FJB: I just I wish you the best with everything and I really look forward to hearing more from you.

BL: Well, you will, if I can get it together you'll hear it. You just wait. And listen. And then you make up your own mind. I hope I can do more work and you look forward to getting some work.


Some Links:

Bill Laswell, Photo by Ziga Korotnik
Photos by Ziga Koritnik


Against Empire: Co-conspirators Weigh In

By David Cristol

In addition to our interview with Bill Laswell, we asked some of the artists and musicians who have worked with him to share some thoughts on their work and experiences together.

These are their stories:

Bachir Attar

Photo by Cherie Nutting

"Bill Laswell is a wonderful producer and a great musician. We were honoured to have him come to the village of Jajouka to record Apocalypse Across the Sky with the group "The Master Musicians of Jajouka" in 1992. I remember the donkeys climbing the mountain road to the village carrying Bill’s recording equipment to my father's house where we spent three days playing our music under a sky holding a big moon. This was the first record after the 1972 recording The Master Musicians of Jajouka with my father Hadj Abdesalam Attar who led the group before me. My brothers and I were all born in this house and famous people like Ornette Coleman, Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin and many others stayed. We call it the "History house" but sadly today it is falling down and it needs repair. We hope to save it someday.

We had a 3-day recording session. The old musician Mfdal was too ill to play with us but we carried him in a chair to the house and he watched everything. Later, Boujeloud, his son, danced around a big fire when we played our ghaitas.

Bill took me to America to record a solo album with Maceo Parker and Ayib Dieng. Writer and composer Paul Bowles [living in Tangier at that time] once said that Bill had "perfect pitch". We thank Bill for all he has done for me and The Master Musicians of Jajouka."

  • The Master Musicians of Jajouka - Apocalypse across the sky (Axiom, 1992)
  • Bachir Attar - The Next Dream (CMP, 1992)
  • Various – The Road to Jajouka : a Benefit Album (Howe Records, 2013)
    With John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Medeski Martin & Wood, Mickey Hart, Lee Ranaldo, Ornette Coleman…
  • The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar with Material - Apocalypse live (M.O.D. Technologies, 2017) 

Hamid Drake

Hamid Drake
Photo By Ziga Koritnik

“I first met Bill in the 1980s, at a recording session with Mandingo Griot Society. It was the third release for the group and Bill was producing it. He changed the trajectory of the group in several ways. At the time he also asked me to do some fills on Herbie Hancock’s “Sound System” that he was also producing. That was the beginning of our relationship. He introduced me to Pharoah Sanders and from that I got the chance to record and tour with Pharoah for several years. So many great people I met through my association with Bill. I am honoured to have been involved in many projects. Sometimes he would bring me to New York and Bill, Bernie Worrell and myself would just record a bunch of rhythm tracks that he would use for various records. I feel like we made a pretty good bass and drum team. The work with Bill does differ in many ways from some of my other work. But it makes sense. It has always been a pleasure to play and travel together. Both of us have a deep love for improvised and so-called free music. I consider Bill a dear friend and brother, with an amazing sense of humour. He’s quite a scholar when it comes to the diversity of music styles and history, and without a doubt one the musical production geniuses of our time. On a side note Bill has helped many musicians from many cultures. I am truly indebted to brother Bill. Thank you, Bill.”

Hamid Drake and Bill Laswell selected collaborations:
  • Pharoah Sanders - Message from Home (Verve, 1995)
  • Sacred System - Nagual Site (Wicklow, 1998)
  • Akira Sakata - Fisherman' (Starlets Japan, 2001; reissued on Trost, 2018)
  • Charged - Live (Innerhythmic, 2002)
  • Painkiller – 50th birthday celebration volume 12 (Tzadik, 2005)
  • Gigi & Material -  Mesgana Ethiopia (M.O.D. Technologies, 2010)
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry - Rise Again (M.O.D. Technologies, 2011)
  • Peter Brötzmann - Long Story Short - Wels 2011 (Trost, 2013)

Ziga Koritnik

Photo by Borut Peterlin

“In 2001, I got the opportunity to spend several weeks in the Slovenian studio of the Ministry of Culture in New York. I went with the aim of getting to know the photography and music scene, and find opportunities to exhibit. I visited the Vision festival for the first time, hung out at the Knitting Factory, Tonic and other jazz clubs. Amazing coincidences were happening to me, as a result of which the phrase "Space is the place!" constantly appeared in my mind. One of those coincidences, which I believe was not, was meeting Bill Laswell. I'd been a fan of his for a while, listening to Material, Last Exit and other projects. At that time, the idea of ​​making a photo book dedicated to jazz began to simmer. I was thinking about who could write a text for it and the idea came up that it could be Bill Laswell. I unsuccessfully called him at the studio where he worked. One day, I was walking around the galleries, when we met completely by chance in the immediate vicinity of his home in Chelsea. I didn't know where he lived, it was completely random. I explained my idea to him and he kindly invited me to his home, where I showed him my portfolio. He agreed to write the text and he gave me a then unreleased Operazone CD. Unfortunately, I did not follow up on the possibility because I was not sufficiently prepared and persistent in my desire. I completed my book Cloud Arrangers in 2019, unfortunately without Bill's text. Now a new opportunity is arising. I am finishing work on a photo book focusing on Peter Brötzmann and Bill has written some words for it. Book should be printed at the end of spring 2024.

I have attended a large number of Brötzmann’s concerts. The most vivid in my memory is a show in Salzburg's “Jazz-it” club in 1997, where he performed with Bill Laswell and Hamid Drake. Louis Moholo also joined them for a short span. No other concert has so profoundly and decisively transported me into a parallel existence. Another concert with Bill was with fellow bass player Jah Wobble. While the walls of the Knitting Factory were shaking from the strong vibrations from the two basses, people were shouting “More bass! More bass!”. We never have enough of good music.”

Kristo Rodzevski 

Photo by Angel Sitnovski

“During the pandemic lockdown, I found my old Macedonian tambura in the closet of my East Village apartment, buried behind clothes, books, and old boots. Over the next few days, I spontaneously started playing some traditional melodies and phrases – old songs that my grandparents used to sing to me or that I overheard during family celebrations, weddings, etc. – while I was growing up in Macedonia. I decided to record a few of them on my phone and sent them to Bill. I was curious to know what he would hear in the sound and the irregular rhythms. Bill called that night and said we should blend the phrases and record this material in a way George Russell’s Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature album was arranged. "It can work out," he said. The supernatural thing, or pure coincidence of that moment was that when I answered his call I was already holding that very LP in my hands and was putting it on the turntable, unaware of my motivation to do so. He knew what my idea was before I opened my mouth or had it clarified for myself.

 Bill is a man of few words, but his silence and restraint have all the sounds, wisdom, and aesthetics you can hear in his works – from Last Exit, Massacre to Henry Threadgill’s Too Much Sugar for a Dime, Masters of Jajouka, etc. A truly remarkable artist and friend.”

  • Kristo Rodzevski - The Rabbit and The Fallen Sycamore (Much Prefer Records, 2017) with Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson, Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Brian Drye. Mixed by Bill Laswell.
  • Kristo Rodzevski - Hubris (M.O.D. Reloaded, 2020) with Tomas Fujiwara, Ikue Mori, Bill Laswell, Mary Halvorson. Produced by Bill Laswell.
  • Kristo Rodzevski - Black Earth (Defkaz Record, 2023) with Dominic James, Josh Werner, Adam Rudolph. Mixed and produced by Bill Laswell.

Akira Sakata

Photo by Ziga Koritnik

“I met Bill in 1981, he was playing in Berlin Jazz Festival with Material, and I was there with my orchestra [live performance released the next year as Sakata Orchestra “Berlin 28”, Better Days label] . After that Bill Laswell asked me to join his band when he came to play with Last Exit, a few years later in Tokyo [as heard on “The Noise of Trouble”, Enemy Records 1986] . I asked Shannon Jackson, “could you please produce my record?” when I was in New York and Shannon said “You should ask Bill about it, he’s a good producer, I’m not.” Bill said yes and we made the Mooko record in 1988, and the “Japan Concerts” live recording by Mooko that same year. When we were recording at a New York studio, Bill and I talked about Mongolia. We said, let’s go to Mongolia. I would find some money, get some Japanese musicians involved, and Bill would gather some New York musicians. We put together the Flying Mijinko Band, went to Mongolia, China, Uzbekistan and Japan in 1994 [as recorded on “Central Asian Tour” double CD, The Japan Foundation 1995]. And before that we had recorded Silent Plankton with Bill [1991] . A few years later we made Fisherman’ with Pete Cosey and Hamid Drake [2001, reissued on Trost Records in 2018]. That’s the last one we did. There were other concerts, one of which just released on Bandcamp this year, Imabari with Peter Brötzmann, Kiyohiko Semba and Anton Fier in 1991. My English is very bad, my understanding of it as well, and it is very easy to understand Bill, he speaks in a simple way. He’s a big producer, and you know I didn’t have money to produce my albums, and he did them out of friendship. I met other musicians through him, like Nicky Skopelitis, Ayib Dieng, Foday Musa Suso and Anton Fier. I also met Bootsy Collins and Maceo Parker, although we didn’t play together. Last time I met him in New York it was before Covid, I had a concert with Chikamorashi (Darin Gray & Chris Corsano). We are friends, he’s like family. I wish for his sickness to go away.”

Wadada Leo Smith

Photo by Ziga Koritnik

"We did several sessions starting in 2014. There is a septet with two guitars and rhythm section, and a trio with Milford Graves. On the latter we celebrate the memory of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Ronald Shannon Jackson, an extraordinary drummer with whom we have played respectively at different  periods. With Bill, no need for lengthy talks. We just grab our instruments and the music happens."

  • Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Laswell – The Stone (MOD Technologies, 2014)
  • Wadada Leo Smith – Najwa (TUM, 2017)
  • Wadada Leo Smith with Milford Graves and Bill Laswell – Sacred Ceremonies (TUM, 2021)
  • Wadada Leo Smith & Orange Wave Electric – Fire Illuminations (Kabell, 2023)

John Zorn

Photo by Dvid Garland

Notes from « Memoria » (Tzadik, 2023). Reprinted with John Zorn’s authorization.

"Bill and I have been working together for over forty-five years. I have guested on a variety of his studio recordings, and he has performed and recorded my game pieces, various studio projects, and several film soundtracks. Together we have performed in countless live situations, most notably in Painkiller with several legendary drummers, including Mick Harris, Milford Graves and Dave Lombardo. The trio format of sax-bass-drums has long been a formidable challenge for every saxophonist. In it, each musician is naked, occupying a very different sonic territory. All their musical contributions are clearly exposed. Our interest was more focused on pioneering extreme new territory in the musical firmament, and along the way we made many friends, a few enemies, and even some enemies who later came around and became fans. One story involves one of my heroes – Lee Konitz. Lee came to see one of my concerts at the Knitting Factory, and later that same night he left a message on my answering machine. “Hey Zorn, can’t say I liked your concert, but afterwards I went up to Dizzy’s Coca-Cola room at Lincoln Center – and compared to what you are doing, the music up there sounded pretty old fashioned and predictable.” In recent years Bill and I have forged a new language in duo format. It is more nuanced than our trio outings, a bit less of an onslaught, but still embodying that level of intensity that we both strive for. The music here moved in a more ambient direction, capturing the feeling tones of a requiem – hence the CD title Memoria – a tribute to three friends and musical heroes that we have lost in recent years – Pharoah Sanders, Milford Graves, and Wayne Shorter."

John Zorn and Bill Laswell selected collaborations:

  • The Dream Membrane (Tzadik, 2014) (with David Chaim Smith)
  • The Cleansing (Tzadik, 2022)
  • Memoria (Tzadik, 2023)
  • John Zorn – Nosferatu (Tzadik, 2012) with Rob Burger & Kevin Norton
  • Painkiller – Talisman (Tzadik, 2002) with Mick Harris
  • Painkiller – Execution Ground (Subharmonic, 1994), reissued on the box set “Painkiller Collected works” (Tzadik, 1998)
  • Painkiller – 50th birthday celebration volume 12 (Tzadik, 2005) with Hamid Drake & Mike Patton
  • John Zorn – IAO – Music in Sacred Light (Tzadik, 2002)
  • John Zorn – Taboo and Exile (Tzadik, 1999)
  • Various artists – Celebrate Ornette (Song X Records, 2016) Ornette Reverb Quartet : Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, Stewart Hurwood  

... And a special thank you to Yoko Yamabe for all of her help!

Photo by Yoko Yamabe


Friday, December 8, 2023

Mark Solborg - BABEL (Ilk Music, 2023)

By Eyal Hareuveni

Danish (with Argentinian roots) guitarist-composer Mark Solborg’s BABEL takes the biblical myth of the Tower of Babel when God created a communicative discord to control man and asks if God actually intended to nurture a fertile diversity. “A disruption of a self-perpetuating echo chamber, to stimulate a more varied and complex perspective of the world? Maybe she (God) wanted to show us that we will find the strength to solve the planet’s problems in our differences and multiple talents, not in uniformity and polarization”.

BABEL, in a way, is an extension of Solborg’s previous work, TUNGEMÅL (meaning idiom or tongue) (Ilk Music, 2021), a platform concerned with the guitar as a voice in contemporary chamber musical contexts. In BABEL Solborg wanted to collapse the self-perpetuating tunnel vision of these echo chambers and to investigate, illustrate and raise awareness of the continuous cross-cultural interhuman debate, and, obviously, to show how words, our idioms and mother tongues are deeply connected with our view of ourselves and the way we resonate with the surrounding world. And furthermore, to suggest a better, compassionate conversation that may become increasingly important if we are to solve the challenges of our society and species.

Solborg composed music for a chamber ensemble of trusted, long-time collaborators - Portuguese, Stockholm-based trumpeter Susana Santos Silva, Italian, Copenhagen-based clarinetist Francesco Bigoni, and Danish reeds player Anders Banke, pianist and keyboards player Simon Toldam and drummer-percussionist Peter Bruun, and Solborg himself on guitar and electronics. Solborg asked the musicians to “attack” the music and to approach it in ways they wouldn’t normally do. Then he added tapes of 18 interviewed voices, speaking in multiple languages, integrated into the rich textures of the music.

This work demands, naturally, deep listening, but its lyrical and intimate, patient, multifaceted and multi-layered nature also radiates a strong sense of freedom and compassion. Solborg says that this work creates a warm and unique garden of fables, a sonic haven to trust the listener’s affections, fears and dreams. And if I may add, a beautiful work that challenges simplistic, binary narratives of social media and demands more complex and thoughtful attention and sensitivity to the sonic details, languages and perspectives of these gifted musicians, as well as of the others around us. It certainly guarantees a powerful healing effect.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Saowakhon Muangkruan and Manop Nakornchai - The night of an animal ย​​​า​​​ม​​​ว​​​ิ​​​ก​​​า​​​ล (​​​ข​​​อ​​​ง​​​เ​​​จ​​​้​​​า​​​ส​​​ี​​​่​​​ข​​​า​​​) (Ramble Records, 2023)

By Nick Ostrum

The night of an animalis a collaboration between two Thai musicians, Saowakhon Muangkruan on cello and Manop Nakornchai on guitar. All six tracks are improvised and together they form something apart from other improvised string duo recordings. You might be able to chalk this up to my own unfamiliarity with Thai and southeast Asian music. The night of an animal does use motifs and melodies that sound like they are from the region, even if on western instruments. That said, the spaces, the slow and unpredictable development and the clearly unscripted nature of these interactions make me think there is something different going on between these two musicians.

First, the folk melodies. Muangkruan and Nakornachai are not out to shred, but to envelop in, at least in the first track, what is a plangent but beautiful world. The tunes are different, but the guitar adds elements of Noël Akchoté’s Loving Highsmithproject, complete with that nostalgic, blurry polaroid sustain. Subsequent tracks bring us closer to the beast, as it were, as they layer presumably guitar body percussion with nervous beeps and uneven blocks of arco. The tension and menace rise, as does the tremolo, as Nakornchai’s wandering ostinato that slowly falls in and out of various winsome motifs. Things get noisier at times (track 5 is a case in point), and Muangkruan and Nakornchai answer each other tit for tat.

There is something glittery and wistful about this, though stylistically I cannot place it in the past or present. In that, and in its deceptively simple melodies, which similarly transcend space as they meld western and eastern traditions, The night of an animal is absolutely engrossing.

The night of an animal is available as a CD and download here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Maria Valencia - Compendio de Alfonías Abisales (Relative Pitch, 2023)

By Jury Kobayashi

Compendio de Alfonías Abisales is a recent release from multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser, Maria Valencia. It was recorded at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The notes accompanying the album suggest that it “was imagined between the town Sutatausa (Colombia) and the mountains of Banff (Canada).”

The album opens with a breath of air and a slow build of a scraping sound, accompanied by little whistling sounds that squeak through the texture of the music. I discovered that Neuston (the title of the track) is a name for organisms that live on the top or attached to-the underside of water surfaces. A fitting title for the track and a perfect example of the playfulness and depth that this album has to offer.

The second track follows suit this time titled after a species of jumping spiders. The solo clarinet bobs and weaves as if to trace the web of the Marantus Volans. Valencia has a beautiful personal vocabulary on the instrument and her tone is phenomenal. The track is followed by the blisteringly fast paced and fiery Cernicaloide. Valencia, now playing alto saxophone sounds equally at home on the sax as she is on the clarinet.

Many of the pieces are quite short on this album and often are no longer then 2 minutes. The range of the works are huge from the growling multiphonic madness of Variaciones de Parientes, to the bass clarinet march of Intermedio, the woodwind choir of Amarillos, the beautiful lyrical bluesy Medallas de Copas Arboreas. Each track on this album is a gem.

The final track is a complete surprise featuring toy piano. The melancholic sound of the toy piano is turned into a jubilant celebration with the insistent rhythmic drive of the chords propelling the music forward. It is followed up by a gorgeous woodwind and percussion anthem.

This album is beautifully done, conceived, and performed. Each track has something special to be discovered. The names of the tracks illuminate fascinating threads that weave them together. Fundamentally though this album sounds beautiful. Valencia’s sound is captivating, intimate, ferocious, and compelling.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Ambrose Akinmusire – Beauty Is Enough (Origami Harvest, 2023)

By Matty Bannond

The Church of St. Eustache in Paris has a complex character. Built between 1532 and 1632, its exterior and interior design reflects Gothic, Renaissance and classical traditions. Ambrose Akinmusire stepped into that slippery space to record a solo trumpet album in 2022. It’s a revealing and visceral fourteen-track snapshot that offers fresh insights into a well-known artist.

Akinmusire won the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in 2007. Now, he has released his first album as a lone player. Beauty Is Enough presents the trumpeter’s phrasing and tone in deep detail, with each note bouncing around the church’s cavernous stone interior. There’s captivating tension between the stripped-down instrumentation and scaled-up acoustic context.

On the first three tracks, Akinmusire feels out the contours of this holy studio. There’s a toe-in-the-water quality to the way the trumpeter starts slow and low, observing how the instrument’s voice behaves before venturing faster and higher. Listeners may benefit from playing this album at loud volume to get a sense of the cathedral’s interior. There’s intimacy in the fizz of Akinmusire’s breath escaping his embouchure. At times, he even grunts and clears his throat. It’s possible to hear each flurry of notes rebounding off ancient stone like a sonic boom or a comet’s tail.

Call and response patterns are another key feature. Akinmusire often explores multiple personalities, repeating a low phrase and answering with more varied high-pitched shapes. There’s a two-note call on “-Ann_” that receives no reply, followed by a three-note call on “Rio” that provokes rapid-fire backchat. Three tracks have titles beginning with “To:”, and they are all constructed around the same low-range setup.

Beauty Is Enough lets listeners see the skeleton beneath Ambrose Akinmusire’s robust body of work. It showcases the trumpeter’s versatile and multifaceted style with lucid clarity. Like the Church of St. Eustache, this album reflects a range of ideas and traditions. It’s a slippery record. But rock solid.

The album is available on CD, vinyl and as a digital download here .

Ambrose Akinmusire - Beauty is Enough (Origami Harvest, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

The title says it all: "Beauty Is Enough", an astonishing solo trumpet performance by Ambrose Akinmusire, who is usually more active in what we could call 'modern creative' jazz, and member of several bands that we reviewed over the years, but never as a leader. 

On this album, he strips away any reference to any musical genre, or using his incredible eclectic knowledge of music, ranging from classical to free improvisation, to bring us sixteen relatively short pieces, in which he creates a fascinating musical universe of crystal clarity and deep emotion. Austerity and masterful discipline on his instrument are merged with feelings and compositional complexity. There are moments when his sound is closer to classical than to jazz, with a purity of sound that is uncanny in its resonance in the open space. In stark contrast to classical musical are acoustically distorted and fractured sounds, bended notes, expressive and exploratory moments. It sometimes sounds like a merging of Bach and Lester Bowie. Bach also comes to mind in his use of structural repetitions, that get slightly altered each time. For most pieces he manages to introduce thematic patterns acting as a foundation for this improvised flights of sound, as if he is accompanying himself without overdub. 

I have listened to it for months now. I have put the album away, and listened to a lot of other music in between, but then you need to hear it again. It is calming, soothing, comforting, it shines, it brightens the room, the space, the day, it jubilates and moans, it energises, it baffles by its incredible virtuosity. It is majestic, solemn, magnificent, yet equally sensitive, personal, intimate, lightfooted and playful. And not one after the other. All these things together, at the same time, and as you notice, there are not enough adjectives to describe my enthusiasm. At the same time it is also authentic, unassuming, humble in its approach. 

Akinmusire was already known to be an excellent trumpet player, but he has outdone himself, propelled himself into a different league altogether. 

He does not seem to want to prove anything. It is not self-centered or designed to break boundaries. It just says: listen to this. This music. Beauty is enough. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp

Monday, December 4, 2023

Kresten Osgood, Bob Moses and Tisziji Muñoz - Spiritual Drum Kinship (Gotta Let It Out, 2023)

By Paul Acquaro

Guitarist Tisziji Muñoz is a somewhat under-the-radar player in improvised music. Perhaps better stated, he is more of an open secret, and those in the know, know that his fiery Coltrane-like approach to his instrument should have him cresting the top of any "fiery-guitar" music fan's list. He also happens to be a teacher of spirituality and combines his teachings with his music to reach some incendiary peaks

On Spiritual Drum Kinship, Muñoz is joined by two percussionists, music legend as well as long-time student of Muñoz, Rakalam Bob Moses and legend-in-the-making Kresten Osgood. Together, they create a rhythmic force that is as knotty and complex as it is accessible and comfortable, and over which Muñoz plays with an inspiring rawness. In fact, it's this rawness that really makes the music work so well. As the tracks evolve, Muñoz makes deviations from one path that may or may not lead to the next one, always leaving some aspect to be explored. Adding to this adventurousness, there is his tone, which is raw and crackling with the energy of an overheating Fender tube amp. Take, for example, the opening moments of the album, the track "When Purple Bangs True." Within its effectively simple melody, there are incomplete notes and an uneven volume, all of which makes it - to my ears - sympathetic and gripping. It's like being the soft side of the Velcro and the music is the other piece. How those little hooks latch on as that simple melody simple builds to anthemic heights in short order.

The interaction between Moses and Osgood is another reason why the album flows so well. One example, on "Bone Rolling Moans," we get a real dose of their pulse-heavy and textural approach. The track begins with Muñoz playing a double-stop melody that seems to be purposefully just on the edge of falling apart, and we hear the drummers building, lightly at first, a fluid, textural bed. Maybe it's more of a water bed, it's surface contours shifting as the weight of the notes change, but always in proportion and supportive of what's above. Mid-way through the track, Muñoz is hoping on this metaphorical bed, while Moses and Osgood are playing along, perfectly in sync with all of the fantastic commotion. Then, Munoz lets the two percussionists duel it out as his guitar feeds-back and fades. The second half of the album is even better.

Spiritual Drum Kinship is an thrilling collection of improvisations, and one true to every word of its title.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Ignaz Schick - Sunday Interview

Ignaz Schick - Photo by Nuno Martins

  1. What is your greatest joy in improvised music?

    There are different joy moments, one definitely is when your primal intuition proves to be right. This can be the idea for a line-up, or a musical/material decision you make while playing. In both line-up and material and in improvisation generally speaking we take risks. Like does it really work if I put player A and Player B together in a trio with myself. Then you go on stage, and it comes out exactly as you imagined, or different but even more beautiful than you expected. Similar for musical material, sometimes it is clear what the situation needs, but very often it is a very intuitive decision making process, and when this decisions work, it usually is a big moment of happiness and joy. Another level of course is when you find the new or unexpected. When you don’t expect anything and it just happens. When I found out for myself that objects vibrate and sound just beautifully when being played on and animated directly by holding them onto the rotating platter of a turntable, I found this magic toy by a pure random mistake, and a whole new cosmos of sounds opened up to me. This are the moments you look for! I still remember and I will never forget this exact instant, it was a revelation, this are moments of pure joy and they usually have a long lasting big impact on your work. This moments are rare and thus so valuable. And of course sharing music, with the colleagues while we make it, and with the audience and friends, for whom we make it ...

  2. What quality do you most admire in the musicians you perform with?

    The ability of (deep) listening, the ability to only play if the music asks for it, and the ability to play the right thing in whatever situation. Plus the curiosity for the unknown or unexpected and a general openness to whatever music or situation. For me it is always an amazing and magical moment if I play music with musicians from completely different styles or geographical/cultural background and when we come together and we find a way to communicate and play music together. This happened to me when playing with Mwata Bowden, with African musicians like Amine Mesnaoui, or recently on many occasions with musicians from Vietnam, Indonesia or India where many were from classical Indian background. Still we were able to play together and create something beautiful as we were all open and ready for it. Another feature I really admire is the type of musicians or improvisors, who really invest themselves, like in musical situations which are complicated or may it be just during a bad and difficult day. There is this type of players, who will lean back and say, oh, this won’t work, and they pull out and let the music fall down. But then there are this other players, who really invest and give everything, who will always try and never give up no matter how difficult the situation or constellation is. They really want to play the music, they want it to come out and unfold, they want to have a good time, so they will do everything to make it happen. I love this type of players. Paul Lovens was such a player, Burkhard Beins, Oliver Steidle and Ernst Bier as well. All of them are drummers, interesting, no? And I admire players who will surprise me, either with unexpected sounds, or crazy decisions, where you have to be on your toe all the time, you have to stay wake and alert and be ready for anything any time. Don Cherry was a master of this, also Charlemagne Palestine and Limpe Fuchs. And, there are this musicians, where you never need to worry, you just start to play, and they have this amazing skill of making you forget all technical issues, cause they are so accomplished, and at the same time generous, the music just comes out and you don’t have to think at all, almost like autopilot, you just let it flow...

  3. Which historical musician/composer do you admire the most?
    (see below, these two questions were inadvertently mixed together when the questions were sent out - FJB)

  4. If you could resurrect a musician to perform with, who would it be?

    From Jazz and my personal history and even though I played with him, Don Cherry of course. I was too young and not ready in those days when he asked to sit in with them. Now it would be super interesting and with what I do now to play with Don would be a dream. I think I could really challenge him now. I know his mindset would be wide open, he would be absolutely up for it, even the most crazy noise stuff, he would love it. With his immense openness he would completely understand and embrace what I am doing. He just lived too fast for me, in double triple tempo… From that period, maybe also Lester Bowie with his more abstract phases. I always loved his vocality and super beautiful extended sounds on trumpet. And another trumpeter, Bill Dixon !! But as I live in our time, it is more about catching up with all those amazing players who are all around now, especially the young ones, so many interesting musicians are around, it’s just wonderful! And from the living legends, one player who we wouldn’t need to resurrect: Wadada Leo Smith, that would be another dream!!

  5. What would you still like to achieve musically in your life?

    Oh, wow, big question. I have never been the person who wanted to play with famous people, or win one of those stupid prizes, like a Grammy, or those ridiculous jazz prizes. It seems some people need those to reassure that they have some importance, because it seems that their music is not enough (for them). I could have aimed for such career paths, but it would have also meant to compromise my music and ideas, to adapt to the business, and to those mafia type opinion makers, and this was never my scope. I am always trying to bring into life the music I hear in my inner ear. And it is quite crazy stuff, anti-career sound so to say ! I think I still want to write more music, and this music is dense, energetic, almost orchestral, weird and mystic stuff. A music full of unheard sounds. So right now I am working on building a community of musicians who a interested and ready to go this path with me, and the nice thing is, there are more and more colleagues who support me and my vision in a very loyal way, that is really a big gift for me. Plus I am building my own sound makers/objects/instruments to bring this sound out. I am not sure if I can achieve it with existing instruments. Partially maybe, but I need to go deeper to dig it out, … I am getting closer, but it is still along path.

  6. Are you interested in popular music and - if yes - what music/artist do you particularly like?

    Not really, I went into avantgarde music when I was 11/12 years old, and I always felt quite fulfilled in that zone. I don’t know much about Pop music, I do not really follow what is happening there, and if I get to hear stuff, it is quite random how it comes to my ears. I do like some of it sometimes, I think Prince was a genius, or I highly respect Michael Jackson for his music and performance. I am not interested in his Yellow Press trivia and scandals, but I think he was an amazing artist. I love James Brown, Funk, Soul and good HipHop. I really like it most when it is raw, pure, honest. And I like a lot of the old stuff from the 1960ies, the Beatles, some of the early Stones, Hendrix of course, The Who, … At the same time there is a lot of crap, especially since MTV came on, or this brainwashing Autotune stuff. I just can’t take it, it is like a big stinky rubbish dump, and as we are polluting and destroying our planet by exploiting it and not caring, we also get polluted in our brains by the consumerist mass media and what bullshit music they throw at us nowadays. So it has been really quite rare that I hear some really cool stuff that manages to pull me in. It is always very random, like Björk and Tricky back in the day worked for me, funny enough also Amy Winehouse. There might be a lot of great stuff I miss out on, but I do not follow Pop, I know nothing about it, seriously, it’s not my field, in another life hopefully, but not now, we only live once and I am still busy catching up with all those other histories of music ...

  7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    A lot of things, first thing talk less when I am amongst people, … Focus more on one thing maybe instead of doing so many things in parallel, … Hard to say, we are who we are, and I have learned not to worry so much anymore and to simply accept who I am. Feels not that bad eventually.

  8. Which of your albums are you most proud of?

    Perlonoid from Perlonex, It Aint Necessarily So from Perlonex & Charlemagne Palestine, my solo Rotary Perceptions, ILOG2, Now Is Forever, … It is hard to say, I am generally not so proud of my albums, they are (transition) documents of a long and painful process, but generally speaking recently I am quite ok and in peace with what I am doing. In composition I am slowly getting there. I enjoy to improvise with different folks and types of players. I love playing very physical solo vinyl sets, and I am usually having quite a blast playing saxophone with some well selected rhythms sections. So let’s see, hopefully soon there will be more albums that I can be proud of ...

  9. Once an album of yours is released, do you still listen to it? And how often?

    Not so often, but more for time reasons, so many new things are happening, maybe one day when I get older I hope I can re-listen everything.

    Some years ago a good friend and respected colleague of mine who I didn't know that well at the time played me different albums over a dinner and we talked about it. He wanted to hear my opinion, like in a blindfold test. I think I was highly critical about everything and so at some point he played me my own record, a duo with Andrea Neumann. I did not recognize it in the beginning, and I started analyzing and commenting. "Oh it’s this and that, like a drone, oh, interesting sound, ah, it is prepared piano, oh, it could be inside piano, oh, this sounds like Andrea Neumann. Damn, this is Andrea Neumann. No idea who the electronics person is, Oh, why did he do this, and that, oh, interesting how he decided to place this harsh noise." And then suddenly "Oh shit, that’s me, it is my own record with Andrea, I haven’t heard that in ages. Man, you really got me here." He smiled at me and we burst out in laughter.

  10. Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life?

    In no specific order:
    • Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come
    • Alber Ayler Quartet – Live in Hilversum
    • Don Cherry/Colin Walcott/Nana Vasconcelos – Codona 2
    • Don Cherry/Ed Blackwell - El Corazon
    • Old And New Dreams, all three albums on Black Saint and ECM
    • Abdullah Ibrahim – The Journey
    • Abdullah Ibrahim/Johnny Dyani – Echoes from Africa
    • Don Cherry – Complete Communion + Brown Rice
    • Art Ensemble of Chicago – Urban Bushmen
    • Archie Shepp & The New York Contemporary Five - this albums and a few others were spinning in nonstop autoreverse mode when I started getting into music in a serious way.

  11. What are you listening to at the moment?

    The music of the composers Pierluigi Billone, Jani Christou, Georg Friedirch Haas, Klaus Lang

    Plus various stacks of vinyls I bought recently including traditional music from Sudan, Africa, Tibet, Turkey, ...

    Stack 1 includes amongst others
    • Graham Moncur III – Evolution
    • Dewey Redman – Look For the Black Star
    • Dieb13 – synkleptie no 1044
    • Dollar Brand – Cape Town Fringe
    • Lester Bowie – Gittin' To Know Y’All
    • Field – Someone Talked
    • Wayne Horvitz-Butch Morris-Robert Previte – nine below zero
    • Zazou/Bikaye – Guilty!
    • Die Vögel Europas – Best Before
    • Senyawa – Alkisah
    • Don Cherry/Jean Schwarz with Michel Portal, J.F. Jenny-Clark & Nana Vasconcelos – Roundtrip (1977) Live at Théatre Récamier Paris
    • Alterations – My Favorite Animals
    • Dewey Redman/Ed Blackwell – Red and Black in Willisau
    • Austin Buckett – Grain Loops 1-30, 30 Works For Sandpaper and 4 Snare Drums
    • Mei Zhiyong – Live in Switzerland
    • The Scorpions & Said Abu Bakr – Jazz Jazz Jazz
    • Night and Day – Live 15.Juni 1984 „FIRST“ Nightclub ehemals FOFIS, Berlin
    • Otomo Yoshihide/Steve Beresford – Museum of Towing and Recovery

      … I hope you don’t wanna know what is in the other stacks ! :-o

  12. What artist outside music inspires you?

    So many, it is an endless list of visual artists, writers, film makers, better don’t get me started. Interests and attention constantly shift here luckily, … In the moment I am reading different books and texts by Roland Barthes about phenomenology, for study and analysis reasons. And I am re-checking the photography of Alfred Stieglitz and some others. Also I saw a beautiful documentary on Arte about Mark Rothko, just to name some ...


Ignaz Schick's music reviewed on the Free Jazz Blog: