David Torn — Prezens
(ECM 1877, 2007, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2008-01-01Guitarist David Torn's return to the ECM label is surely a testament to the man’s desire to push forward. His long time collaborators (Tim Berne and his Science Friction band of improvisers) provide a boiling hotbed of steamy jazz, free playing, and live sampling across the disc as the composer’s raw material. Torn isn’t as interested in the guitar as lead instrument — rather he’s apt to use it as a sword-like triggering device to spit out gritty fuzz laden textures. The disc opens with a 60s feel due to keyboardist Craig Taborn channeling Larry Young’s Hammond B3 style. The guitarist’s role as audio ring leader is prominent in the loopback and sampled recited prose of “Rest and Unrest” and “Ring for Endless Travel.” The former track features backwoods acoustic blues layered with unusual synthesizer leads. Berne’s own cough-and-spit playing across the disc delivers a consistently volatile and abrasive air. For guitar enthusiasts there is the brief “Them Buried Standing” where a real-time sampled Frisell-like phrase is well-played. Other notable pieces include “Bulbs,” which drives in a direction toward Bill Laswell’s audio experiments with Praxis and “Sink” where most of Torn’s wailing leads are unleashed. In closing, it’s great to hear Torn leading this inspired group; too bad the tour never materialized to take it all to the next level.
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more