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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

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The final recording of the late violinist Billy Bang from February 2011, days before his final performance in the TUMfest 11 in Helsinki, is a celebration of his life as musician. Bang chose for this recording compositions of innovative musicians in the history of jazz--Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins-- that were part of his quintet repertoire for years. His trusty quintet supports his musical ideas and improvisations beautifully, and the album booklet features touching and insightful poems that were recited by poets Amiri Baraka, Quincy Troupe and Steve Dalachinsky in the memorial event that was organized ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

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Da Bang was recorded two months before violinist Billy Bang's battle with cancer ended in April, 2011. The album title is lifted from Bang's former FAB Trio band mate, drummer Barry Altschul. Indeed, Bang was an influential presence, partly due to his cutting-edge improvisational faculties. He was an artiste markedly comfortable in most any setting. On this outing, Bang covers modern jazz standards and contributes one original composition. The quartet gels on the late Don Cherry's “Guinea," which was originally recorded for Old and New Dreams' self-titled album, released in 1979 by ECM Records. From the onset, Bang's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

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Even were one not viewing Da Bang! through the lens of this being violinist Billy Bang's last album, recorded just two short months before he succumbed to cancer in April 2011, there is still a detectable elegiac air which pervades even the brightest tracks. That's not the fault of the cast, although trombonist Dick Griffin comes across as a somewhat downbeat soloist, nor the material though it includes a selection of old warhorses. Rather it is down to the unvarnished verité of the recording, which allows every nuance of string, gut and wood to conjoin in a poignantly vulnerable tone.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

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Da Bang! is the last studio album recorded by violinist Billy Bang, made just two months before he passed away on April 11, 2011. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, Bang spoke about the healing power of music during these sessions and how he wanted to give something back to those who inspired and supported him. Considering the bulk of the record consists of covers, this final effort can be interpreted as the innovative violinist's elegy to the artists and music he most loved.The assembled quintet features legendary trombonist Dick Griffin, a former sideman to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

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The list of prominent jazz violinists is not a long one. Start with Stéphane Grappelli and his legendary Hot Club de France swing recordings with gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Then there's Stuff Smith and his innovative electrolyzing of the instrument; Joe Venuti; the late Polish firebrand Zbigniew Seifert; and the still-active, post-bop/fusion player Jean-Luc Ponty.It's a short list, but it's one that's not complete without the name Billy Bang, who passed away in 2011.Billy Bang--born William Walker in Mobile, Alabama--began his career in New York City's Loft Scene of the early '70s after his conscripted service ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang: Da Bang!

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On April 10, 2011, the music world lost one of the foremost innovators of the violin, Billy Bang. In addition to boldly pushing the instrument's boundaries, he is one of the rare jazz players who left an indelible mark on it. The Finnish TUM label posthumously released Bang's swan song, recorded a mere two months before his untimely death from lung cancer.Da Bang! is a sublime album of rich harmonies, multifaceted emotions, and tight, intellectually stimulating spontaneity. The lone original, “Daydreams," is also its centerpiece, opening with pianist Andrew Bemkey's wistful and nocturnesque sonata that shimmers in muted ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble: Black Man’s Blues / New York Collage

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Billy Bang's Survival EnsembleBlack Man's Blues / New York CollageNo Business Records2011 With Black Man's Blues / New York Collage, the Lithuanian based No Business label presents another thrilling installment in its invaluable documentation of the New York loft jazz of the 1970s, following on from 2010's acclaimed Muntu Recordings Box and Commitment: The Complete Recordings 1980-1983. Featured artist this time out is the late violinist Billy Bang, who died of lung cancer in April 2011, while this issue was in preparation. Like its predecessors, this double CD presentation comes with ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Vision Festival: Day 7 Finale, New York, NY, June 11, 2011

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Day 1 | Days 2-3 | Day 4 | Days 5-6 | Day 7 Vision FestivalAbrons Arts CenterNew York CityJune 11, 2011 Reut Regev R*Time Special Edition Trombonist Reut Regev's R*Time began the final night of the Vision Festival in exuberant style. Since relocating to New York from her native Israel in 1998, Regev has kept an inclusively wide contacts book, encompassing Latin, klezmer and rock, as well as the contemporary avant-garde. She notably holds down the trombone chair in esteemed composer/saxophonist Anthony Braxton's renowned Twelvetet +1, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang / Bill Cole: Duet

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Among the more daring moments in music is one of the last adventures that violinist Billy Bang shared with double reeds player, the venerable Bill Cole. The intense encounter took place on April 17, 2009 and was captured by Cole who released it on his own label in the winter of 2010. A collection of intriguing compositions by both Cole and Bang, as well as tumultuous improvisations that emerged from the depths of each man's soul, this album will remain one of the most mystical confluences in music to be captured on record. Both men have an equal share in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang: Prayer for Peace

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Protesting the inhumanity of war through creative endeavors takes on far greater significance when the artist in question has been personally involved. A veteran of the Vietnam War, violinist Billy Bang confronted his own personal demons on such albums as Vietnam: The Aftermath (Justin Time, 2001) and Vietnam: Reflections (Justin Time, 2004). Prayer for Peace is a thematic continuation of sorts, expanding beyond Bang's concerns about global conflict to address clashes of a more universal and personal nature.The seven tunes that comprise this 2005 recording revel in a celebratory zeal rarely heard in political protest music. Bang's eclectic ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Vision Festival 2008: Day 2

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Kidd Jordan, Dave Burrell, Hamiet Bluiett, Maynard Chatters, Billy Bang, William Parker, Hamid Drake, Joel Futterman, Clyde Kerr, Gerald Cleaver, Fred Anderson

13th Annual Vision Festival Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York City June 11, 2008

It has become customary for the second night of the Vision Festival to be used to honor the lifetime achievement of one of the luminaries of the free jazz firmament and tonight, following in the footsteps of Bill Dixon, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Bang Quintet featuring Frank Lowe: Above & Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids

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Few musicians in any category combine violinist Billy Bang's intrinsic understanding of his instrument's tradition with the adventurousness associated with the New York City loft scene of the 1970s and wrap it up in an inside-out style honed and refined over the course of a thirty-plus year career. For the last few years Bang has been enjoying a creative peak, particularly as a member of the William Parker Violin Trio, which released Scrapbook (Thirsty Ear, 2003), and as the leader of his own projects that draw on his experiences as a Vietnam veteran. Longtime friend and collaborator, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio featuring Billy Bang: Big M: A Tribute to Malachi Favors

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Malachi Favors Maghostut was more than simply the bassist for the AACM's seminal Art Ensemble of Chicago, he was a musical force whose influence ranged far across the creative music spectrum. An estimable collaborator, Favors held down sideman duties in other ensembles, including percussionist Kahil El'Zabar's long-running Ritual Trio. Since Favors' passing in 2004, Yosef Ben Israel fills his role in the trio, alongside tenor saxophonist/pianist Ari Brown.

Big M was recorded the same week as the Ritual Trio's Live At The River East Art Center (Delmark, 2005). The musicians entered the studio with a frequent collaborator, violinist ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Billy Bang: Sweet Space / Untitled Gift

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Violinist Billy Bang has reissued two of his earlier albums on CD for the first time--Sweet Space, a live album from 1979, and Untitled Gift, a 1982 studio set. Both discs have lineups including luminaries like Frank Lowe and Don Cherry. The free structure and embrace of atonality give this music its kick. Billy Bang Sextet Sweet Space 8th Harmonic Breakdown 2005 (1979)

The tune that opens Sweet Space, “A Pebble is a Small Rock, has a structure reminiscent of “India or “Africa, starting with the plucked bass intro by Wilber ...



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