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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tania Chen, Henry Kaiser, Wadada Leo Smith, William Winant: Ocean of Storms

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In between stints as a videographer of below-ice underwater regions in Antarctica, guitarist Henry Kaiser maintains a remarkably busy agenda as an improvising musician. Here he's joined by Wadada Leo Smith, an occasional partner going back to their mutual connection with Eugene Chadbourne in the 1970s and later collaboration on their Yo Miles! album from 1998. Pianist Tania Chen and percussionist William Winant, both of whom have recently worked with Kaiser as well (on Megasonic Chapel, from 2015), round out ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tania Chen, Henry Kaiser, Wadada Leo Smith, William Winant: Ocean of Storms

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If, for no other reason than Wadada Leo Smith rears his predominant head, this recording should be considered. Within the electronic walls of All About Jazz, one can forgive me for having not paid proper tribute to Smith's exceptional America's National Parks (Cuneiform Records, 2016) since no less than five colleagues did. I am a late comer to Smith, whose pan-artistic approach is so enormous I have shied away from taking it on. We have lived in a post-John Cage ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Three from Henry Kaiser on Balance Point Acoustics

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The Balance Point Acoustics label was set up by double bassist Damon Smith in 2001 to document his own music. In the years since, the label has issued a steady stream of recordings, most featuring Smith. Significantly, the first of the label's releases not to include the bassist was the 2006 Henry Kaiser solo album Domo Arigato Derek-Sensei!, a tribute to Derek Bailey who was recently deceased at the time; Kaiser and Bailey had first recorded together as early as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Kaiser/Steve Parker/Damon Smith/Chris Cogburn: Nearly Extinct

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The title of this improvising free jazz quartet's release Nearly Extinct, is a reference to the current state of instant composing. The cover lists various players (Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane), Bands (ICP Orchestra, SME, AMM, AACM, ISKRA 1903), and refers to differing scenes from San Francisco to London and Wuppertal. That title is certainly a misnomer. If we think of it in terms of popular music, free jazz or free improvisation was a stillborn child back ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Kaiser - Damon Smith - Weasel Walter: Plane Crash Two

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This album was created shortly after experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser's large ensemble collaboration with fabled Brit guitarist Ray Russell The Celestial Squid (Cuneiform, 2015), as Plane Crash Two marks the second installment of the trio's unadulterated free improvisation exploits. Here, three longtime associates generate that special synergy required to pull it off. Regardless of tempo or pitch, the musicians expand, contract and generate call and response patterns via microsecond-like reactions amid the ensuing developments. The program is consummated ...

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 ...


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