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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell: The Celestial Squid

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The Celestial Squid is an unprecedented summit meeting between two renowned guitarists: legendary British session ace Ray Russell and idiosyncratic Bay Area experimentalist Henry Kaiser. Although best known as a veteran studio musician, Russell's groundbreaking early records revealed a penchant for unbridled free jazz, culminating in his 1971 masterpiece Rites and Rituals (CBS). Since then, Russell has enjoyed a lucrative freelance career, working with artists ranging from Gil Evans to David Bowie, but other than a few recent fusion-oriented endeavors, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Kaiser and Ray Russell: The Celestial Squid

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Jazz fusion guitarist Ray Russell and polystylistic experimentalist Henry Kaiser have never previously recorded together. Kaiser's recorded output is prodigious whereas Russell's is more modest. His debut album Turn Circle(1968) was swiftly followed by a clutch of critically acclaimed but more challenging ones such as Dragon Hill (1969) and Secret Asylum (1973) prior to Russell changing tack to more fusion based recordings. It is these “challenging" works to which The Celestial Squid invites most comparison. “Gutken Limpo" opens ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...



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