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October 7 2019
Bill Folwell (1/5/1939 - 2/10/2019)
Sad to report the passing of Bill Folwell. He played bass in the bands of Albert Ayler from 1966 to 1969, and his recordings span the 1966 European tour to the final Impulse LPs. Kees Hazevoet sent me the news, which he’d picked up from a Noal Cohen posting on the Jazz Research List. It included a link to this brief obituary from the Tampa Bay Times.
Bill’s career, of course, was not confined to his time with Ayler and several years ago he sent me a copy of an extensive interview he’d done for WKCR-FM in 2007, which you’ll find in the Interviews section. Also, only a few months ago, Marc Chaloin’s interview with Bill from 1998, was published (edited by Pierre Crépon) in Point of Departure.
Creative Improvised Music: An International Bibliography of the Jazz Avant-Garde, 1959-Present by John Gray has recently been published by the African Diaspora Press, which describes it thus:
“For almost three decades Fire Music, the author’s acclaimed 1991 bibliography, has been the standard reference work on the jazz avant-garde. Now, at long last, we have its companion. Creative Improvised Music picks up where that volume left off, focusing on the literature on American free jazz and European free improvisation published since the early 1990s, as well as older works and archival material not included in its predecessor. In this new iteration users will find information not only on the music’s pioneers but also on hundreds of other improviser-composers, ensembles, and collectives which have emerged in recent years.
The current volume is organized into three easy to navigate sections—General Works; Regional Studies; and Biographical and Critical Studies—allowing users to quickly access the information they need. It also includes a detailed subject index which offers a key to all of the book's sections and another way to quickly pinpoint citations by topic, geographical location, personal name, and instrument.”
Pierre Crépon interviews John Gray in the current online edition of The Wire, covering all aspects of his work, including its origins and its particular difficulties. I will take the liberty of extracting this part, since it provides a useful booklist:
‘Are there recent works you would single out as particularly important?
Yes. For those seeking an introduction to the published literature on the music I would of course recommend both Fire Music and Creative Improvised Music, as well as Jeff Schwartz’s recent Free Jazz, an annotated bibliography published in 2018. For the free jazz/creative improv movement and its history I would suggest Ian Anderson’s This Is Our Music, a scholarly look at the music’s development during the 1960s and George Lewis’s A Power Greater Than Itself, an in-depth portrait of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. For developments of the 1970s, including the New York loft scene, two works stand out: Bill Shoemaker’s Jazz In The 1970s and Michael Heller’s Loft Jazz.
I would supplement these with two early social histories which have recently been reissued, Val Wilmer’s As Serious As Your Life and Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli’s Free Jazz/Black Power, a French Marxist perspective from 1971 now available in English translation. For free improv I would suggest John Corbett’s A Listener’s Guide To Free Improvisation, a primer that offers a non-technical guide to the music’s recorded legacy. Out of the many biographies and memoirs published over the last three decades I would single out three: Lewis Porter’s critical biography John Coltrane: His Life And Music, John Szwed’s Space Is The Place, a masterful portrait of Sun Ra, and Songs Of The Unsung, a rich oral history from Los Angeles pianist and bandleader Horace Tapscott edited by Steven Isoardi.’
This display of Bells LPs is from an event, ‘Pieces of Peace & Fire’, at the Trondheim Kunsthall in Norway which took place from 22nd to 28th August, featuring the work of Mats Gustafsson. Dirk Goedeking found it on Mats Gustafsson’s site.
‘STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon draws upon the architectural features of the iconic jazz venue it’s titled for to evoke an atmospheric scene. More dive bar than jazz club, Slugs’ Saloon was a long, narrow space with exposed-brick walls, colored light fixtures, a mural by painter Bob Thompson, and floors covered in sawdust. Located on East Third Street between Avenue B and Avenue C in New York’s then seedy Alphabet City from 1964 to 1972, it was home to the experimentalists of free jazz, including Albert Ayler, Jackie McLean, Sun Ra’s Arkestra, Pharoah Sanders, and Cecil Taylor.
With mirrors that swing out from the sides of the bandstand—a notable departure from the original Slugs’—Moran’s installation features a multitiered platform with a wooden floor, vintage upright piano, and drum set. On its lower level sits a single chair and a Wurlitzer Americana II jukebox, surrounded by sawdust and programmed with whistling tunes and audience incantations from the Village Vanguard, where Moran and The Bandwagon have a standing gig every third week of November.’
I could mention buses, but I won’t. After last year’s release of a ‘lost’ Coltrane album, Both Directions At Once, another one has popped up - Blue World, a collection of tracks by the classic quartet, recorded, between Crescent and A Love Supreme, for the soundtrack of a French-Canadian film by Gilles Groulx, Le Chat Dans Le Sac (The Cat In The Bag - so close). Here’s a track:
There’s an informative review on The Quietus, and the film itself is available on youtube. Très Jean-Luc Godard.
I realise we’re wandering away from Albert Ayler here, but indulge me a little further. I rejected the following bit from last month’s entry since I reckoned it was probably not as great a revelation to anybody else as it was to me, but that Quietus review mentions Jimmy Giuffre, so that brought it back to mind. I was looking through the Free Classic Movies site and came across Daughter of Horror (aka Dementia) which carried the description: “Stupid Awful Excuse for a Movie” and “DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE!”. But, obviously intrigued, not least because there was a mention of Shorty Rogers and jazz, I watched it and lo and behold, around the 43 minute mark, there was Shorty Rogers and his Giants, including Jimmy Giuffre on tenor and, I presume, John Graas on french horn. So apologies if I’m teaching my grandma to suck eggs, but it was new to me, and quite exciting (I live a very quiet life). The film is also on youtube and at the Internet Archive, so, take your pick. And, in a vain attempt to drag the subject back to the world of Albert Ayler, here’s en episode of ‘Jazz Scene USA’ from 1962 featuring Shorty Rogers and his Giants, sans Jimmy Giuffre, but with Gary Peacock on bass.
So, back to the world of Albert Ayler, and another of those Russian mp3 compilations of his complete works which Dirk Goedeking keeps finding. This was “part of the Russian 6 CD set formerly sold by ‘yukiss.ru’, now by ‘At Home Collection’. The set was on sale on auctions.yahoo.co.jp for two weeks, but momentarily it has disappeared.”
The following is from the programme for this year’s Lecco Jazz Festival:
Which translates (roughly) as:
LECCO JAZZ OFF FESTIVAL
“Tribute to Giorgio Gaslini”
EDUCATIONAL AND CONCERT WORKSHOPS in collaboration with C.R.A.M.S.
Friday, September 13th 9.00 pm concert at the Crams
Saturday, September 14th afternoon concert / happening widespread in courts of the Acquate district
MUSIC ON THE BOUNDARIES Imaginary boundaries, real borders, boundaries between music and sounds. Improvisations and compositions snapshots of a collective of musicians, inspiring themselves to Mikrokosmos of Bela Bartok and to the transcripts of the music of Albert Ayler by Giorgio Gaslini. “Modern art, Cesare Pavese noted in his Diary, it is a return to childhood: his perennial reason is the discovery of things, discovery which can happen, in its purest form, only in the memory of childhood” (from Massimo Mila, “The art of Bela Bartok”).
Musical coordination Lionello Colombo and Luca Pedeferri.”
And staying in Italy, I came across this on the Il Manifesto site.
‘An illustration that appeared in 1956 in La Tribuna Illustrata tells the story of a jazz orchestra in Amsterdam whose performers accompanied the music “with shouts, jumps, hysteria contortions and excitement communicated to the public. Then two policemen, believing that the conductor of the orchestra had been seized by an access of madness, seized him, dragged him into his dressing room and here subjected him to a prolonged cold shower.”’
It’s the illustration to an article by Flavio Massarutto about jazz and madness and comics, entitled ‘The Rhythm of Possession’, which is introduced with the following:
“For decades jazz has been associated with madness and mental alterations. A music burdened by stereotypes that have thickened essays and comics often dominated by the account of the psychological discomforts of the artists. In 1913 a US comic tells the adventures of an African-American flutist whose ragtime unleashes insane dances. In 2007 Albert Ayler takes us out of the body.”
Of course, Albert gets a mention because of the Astral Project manga as well as his perceived mental state, but I found the whole article interesting. So much so that I stuck the English translation on a separate page should you run into difficulties with the link to Il Manifesto.I found myself caught in some kind of registration loop when I tried it again and then, when I was asked to fill in a profile thingy, got a bit paranoid. Il Manifesto is, after all, a Communist paper, and now that Bingo Little and Gussie Fink-Nottle seem to be taking their orders from Roderick Spode, and the Daily Mail, condemning one of the Scottish judges who ruled against the spiffing wheeze of shutting down Parliament for five weeks, described him as a ‘jazz lover’, I thought it best to err on the side of caution.
Rashied Ali, Louis Belogenis and Wilber Morris – Live At Tonic
‘Heavenly Star (Dedicated To Albert Ayler)’ comes in around the 50 minute mark.