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Music from Europe
Anyone who might be revisiting classic movies via a Netflix subscription has probably noticed they don't make films like they used to. A similar observation can be applied to jazz records from the '60s. Some of the most striking examples can be found on the being- reissued-as-we-speak ESP-Disk catalogue. Labels often function as time capsules and few took that role more seriously than Bernard Stollman, who captured a grittily inventive period in New Thing history with starkly recorded and designed LPs.
That period claimed a lot of lives, both literally and figuratively. A look through the label's back catalogue is to see a number of fine musicians gone before their time: Albert Ayler, Byron Allen, Marzette Watts, Jacques Coursil, Henry Grimes (the last two having resurfaced in the last several years) and Giuseppi Logan. The latter, who played alto and tenor saxophones, Pakistani oboe, bass clarinet, flute and piano, had a brief recording career: this eponymous debut album from October 1964, a live followup from May 1965 and two Spring 1966 sideman dates, one with Patty Waters and the other a major label release with Roswell Rudd. If for no other reason, Logan is significant for essentially starting the recording careers of pianist Don Pullen, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Milford Graves, the band found on this session. Apart from that, Logan, who himself suddenly reappeared at last year's Vision Festival (a pattern to be sure), probably had a hand in influencing the modern freeish reedmen who seem to play every instrument out there. The five tracks on this disc, remastered as best they could be, are all Logan originals, including "Dance of Satan," recast as "Satan's Dance" on Rudd's 1966 Impulse disc Everywhere. "Tabla Suite" features Graves on the titular instrument in an Eastern foray and the rest is typical avant-garde jazz of the time, meaning completely all over the place and reflective of the city when it was really dynamic and diverse. Word is that Logan intends to record again and it will be interesting to see if the results are anything like plans to clone dinosaur DNA.
The stimulus of New York City in the early '60s made it to Europe via two dissimilar conduits: the 1964 tours of Albert Ayler and Charles Mingus (and by extension Eric Dolphy's addendum performances after leaving the latter's group). That influence sowed the seeds of the region's soon-to-be mighty free and avant-garde jazz scenes. German multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel may have released the first original-sounding European jazz album in 1965 (Heartplants, SABA) but his US debut Music From Europe (and conversely ESP-Disk's second album by a European after countryman Karl Berger) actually fits quite well with the rest of the music being released by the label at the time. Dutchman Willem Breuker (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, clarinet and bass clarinet) is featured prominently alongside Hampel's vibes, bass clarinet and flute; interestingly, two weeks prior they were both playing on the landmark album Globe Unity by Alex von Schlippenbach, who was in Hampel's Heartplants band. Hampel wrote all three tunes: the "Assemblage" suite, "Heroicredolphysiognomystery," dedicated to Dolphy, and "Make love not war to everybody". Piet Veening and Pierre Courbois (the latter appearing on the label later as part of the Dutch Free Music Quintet with trumpeter Boy Raaymakers, still a member of Breuker's Kollektief) are a solid rhythm section but it is the battle between Hampel and Breuker, two natural leaders, that gives this session its wonderful prickliness. Fans of bristling European free jazz will be reminded that Breuker was easily the equal of any other squawking continental saxophonist, even if he hasn't played this way in years.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Tabla Suite; Dance of Satan; Dialogue; Taneous; Bleecker Partita.
Personnel: Giuseppi Logan: alto sax, tenor sax, Pakistani oboe, bass clarinet, flute; Don Pullen: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Milford Graves: drums, tabla.
Music from Europe
Tracks: Assemblage: Disassociation, Consolation, Renunciation, Modul, Esotheric, Epiphany, Turbulence; Heroicredolphysiognomystery; Make Love Not War to Everybody.
Personnel: Willem Breuker: soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet; Gunter Hampel: vibraphone, bass clarinet, flute; Piet Veening: bass; Pierre Courbois: percussion.