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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Weasel Walter / Henry Kaiser / Damon Smith: Plane Crash

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Power trio or acoustic sensitives? This album shuffles both manifestations and mostly decides to alternate the settings, allowing torn ears some peace following each eruptive onslaught. Surely this must be guitarist Henry Kaiser's most extreme recording, in terms of decibel achievement? His rabid emissions build a wall of Black Metal doom-chundering, a pinnacle of sludge detrimetalism. Damon Smith's grime-bass traverses the tonal range past cello and even as high as the violin, bowing, dexterously plucking, as if eternally questing for the very nature of string stress magnification, dark powders blooming into the night. Weasel Walter's drum strafes are sympathetically bludgeoning. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kiku Day / Henry Kaiser: Zen Kaiju

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Berkeley-based experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser has gained a justified reputation for his eclectic tastes and the way that he fuses his influences into an idiosyncratic guitar style. He began playing the guitar after listening to seminal free-improv guitarist Derek Bailey and has a deep knowledge of the Grateful Dead's musical journeys, as well as the 1970s electric-era of Miles Davis, as documented in the three volumes of his Yo Miles! band with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. He also has a keen interest in musical traditions from around the world, as his musical tours to Madagascar and Norway with fellow-guitarist David ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andrea Centazzo / Henry Kaiser: Infinity Squared

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Nigh three decades are flown since these two weird brothers met and they recreate some of their own internal thunder, lightning and hailstorms here. Italian percussionist straordinario Andrea Centazzo has deepened his fascination with tintinnabulatory trinkets, sonic booms and visual-media outings (lost here), while guitar bad boy and madcap collaborator Henry Kaiser has honed yet broadened his cultural horizons (a celebrated series with Malagasy musicians) and unbridled explorations of plectra. These guys set each other off like sodium and chloride, splitting from simple table salt into dangerously electrified ions. “Pots whirrs with whizzing fantasies of light. “White ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Kaiser / Charles K. Noyes / Song Won Park: Invite the Spirit 2006

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What was remarkable about the first Invite the Spirit record by the trio of guitarist Henry Kaiser, percussionist Charles K. Noyes and San Won Park (who plays the Korean kayagum, a twelve-stringed zither-like instrument) was how neatly they subsumed Asian traditions with the Western avant-garde. On the trio's second record, they more or less do the same, but some 23 years have passed and traditions have evolved. And in a sense, it's a misnomer to call it a merging of traditions. As much as Park does, Kaiser and Noyes play “traditional" (if not as old) instruments. But ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yo Miles! Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith: Upriver

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Last year the Yo Miles! collective released Sky Garden (Cuneiform), a two-disc set that surveyed ("covered" trivializes its accomplishment) Miles Davis' brand of funky '70s jazz fusion. At over two and a half hours, it was a massive slab of music. Upriver is also a massive slab. And once again it begs the question, “Does the world need another 25-minute version of 'Bitches Brew'? Yo Miles! speaks to the affirmative. The group is larger than the band Miles led on Agharta and Pangaea by a couple of guitars and an extra saxophone, but what Yo Miles! loses ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yo Miles! Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith: Upriver

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Wadada Leo Smith and Henry Kaiser's Yo Miles! band completes a trilogy with the release of Up River, their latest double-disc dive into the exotic and sensual world of Miles Davis's first electric period, circa 1969-75. Once again they take some of the fiercest and most revolutionary music of the 20th Century and manage to reimagine it while remaining faithful to the earth-rending originals. And, speaking of originals, as with the past collections, they go beyond tribute band status to compose new works that uncannily match the menace and majesty of the originals.

First heard on Big Fun, “Go Ahead ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yo Miles! Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith: Upriver

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Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith are back with a third double helping of their view of the music of Miles Davis, bringing along a couple of their own tunes. Once again it is time to celebrate the music and the perspective they bring to it.

Smith and Kaiser head Yo Miles!, the band that transforms Davis' music. Smith is adventurous, which in itself states the obvious, but he's marked by his ability to change colour and shape, sound and approach within the space of a tune and give it constantly moving contours. He can have his foot ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yo Miles! Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith: Upriver

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Following their highly-acclaimed second Yo Miles! release, Sky Garden (Cuneiform, 2004), trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist Henry Kaiser return for a third time to the wellspring of Miles Davis' electric period of '69-75. Like Sky Garden , Upriver sports cleaner lines and a less dense approach than their first collaboration, Yo Miles! (Shanachie, 1998), but stylistically it sits somewhere between the two, blending the bold assertion of the first release with exploration of the ambient space that was so predominant on the second. Recorded live with no overdubs and again released as an SACD hybrid, Upriver features the same ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yo Miles! Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith: Upriver

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Upriver , the third double-disc offering from guitarist Henry Kaiser and electrified trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's Yo Miles! project, features the duo and their ever-changing band taking on Miles Davis' most adventurous tunes: “Bitches Brew,"? “Yesterfunk,"? “Black Satin,"? and a medley of other on the corner jams. The tunes collected on Upriver are hardly covers in any sense; instead, Smith, Kaiser & Co. use Davis' groove-heavy compositions merely as a framework, a starting point from whence they begin their own sonic explorations. More elastic and expansive than the milder fusion bands that followed him, Miles Davis' 1970s ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Kaiser/Wadada Leo Smith Yo Miles!: Sky Garden

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With Miles Davis' electric period finally gaining the credit it deserves, the number of groups recording everything from “music-informed-by" to flat-out tributes is almost too large to count. Everyone from Dave Douglas to George Schuller has, in some shape or form, created works influenced by Miles' electric excursions. But when guitarist Henry Kaiser and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith released Yo Miles! back in '98, it was clear that the bar had been raised. Without losing site of their own distinctive voices, they managed to create a tribute that completely captured the spirit of that controversial period, demonstrating how it has ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Greg Goodman/Henry Kaiser/Lukas Ligeti: Heavy Meta

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Exotic and unpredictable free improvisations from the Bay Area. Henry Kaiser is the best-known voice here, an independently wealthy, endlessly creative guitarist who has worked from San Francisco to Madagascar, Antarctica and back. Hearing him paired in a free trio with piano and drums is a rather unusual experience, but close listening uncovers many deposits of musical wisdom and wit. Goodman and Ligeti are suitable partners in crime, intuitive and attentive. Yet the musicians seem to wear their influences a bit too prominently on their sleeves.

One complaint which rises early is that the players seem to be trying too ...



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