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Sun Ra and His Space Arkestra: What Planet Is This?

Read "What Planet Is This?" reviewed by John Eyles

It is appropriate that this double album is being released by Leo Records' Golden Years imprint. Recorded in New York in July, 1973, it features as large an Arkestra as any that Sun Ra put together and includes all of his key collaborators. What Planet Is This? comes from the crucial period when Sun Ra had progressed from cult status to wider recognition, a process aided by a strange alliance with the MC5. But unlike the '50s and '60s (which ...

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Vladimir Rezitsky/Jazz Group Arkhangelsk - Orkestrion - Mikhail Chekalin - Petras Vysniauskas - Ganelin/Vysniauskas/Talas: Golden Years of the Soviet New Jazz - Volume II

Read "Golden Years of the Soviet New Jazz - Volume II" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

This nicely structured collection represents the second of two recently issued 4-CD sets of what has been coined: “Soviet New Jazz.” And while some folks might assume that these are strictly novelty items, that notion does not apply here. Deeply entrenched in classical music, many Russians have exhibited a keen interest in jazz and pop throughout the years, despite the repressive nature of the former Soviet Union. Naturally, many of the classically trained musicians did not enjoy full access to ...

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The Art Ensemble Of Chicago: Live In Milano

Read "Live In Milano" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

This outing was originally issued as a bootleg LP ( Among the People ) amid some disagreements between the band and the producer, yet all concerns have since made amends as Live In Milano is officially released for the first time. The opening piece, “Tutankhamun," is an eighteen-minute extravaganza featuring Malachi Favors Magoustous's prominently conveyed walking bass lines, trumpeter Lester Bowie's emotionally driven attack, and Famoudou Don Moye's astute utilization of various percussion instruments. However, the group's often animated methodology ...

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Famoudou Don Moye/John Tchicai/Hartmut Geerken: The African Tapes

Read "The African Tapes" reviewed by AAJ Staff

One of music's most amazing powers is its ability to tell a story. In the case of The African Tapes, three musicians lived an incredible story and transformed the experience into a narrative of pure sound. Lengthy negotiations with various foreign ministries and embassies gave fruit in 1985 as the trio of Moye, Tchicai, and Geerken unlocked the doors to performance in West Africa. Starting out in Freetown, these musicians traveled across Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia as cultural ambassadors, ...

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The Ganelin Trio: Strictly for our Friends

Read "Strictly for our Friends" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Evolutionary biologists fret constantly about the long-term consequences of isolation. The giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands and the mutant flowers of Hawaii provide two examples where species have run rampant in isolation. In this era of immediate communication and internet accessibility, one often forgets that music has also undergone similar experiences. Political forces, driven by the Communist agenda, offered crushing isolation to experimental musicians in the Cold War-era Soviet Union. In this environment, the Ganelin Trio actually managed to ...

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Sergey Kuryokhin: The Ways of Freedom

Read "The Ways of Freedom" reviewed by AAJ Staff

In the darkest hour of the Cold War, pianist Sergey Kuryokhin sought every opportunity to uncover the contraband ideas of Western music and incorporate them into his own playing. His day job consisted of playing piano accompaniment twice weekly for a girls' gymnastic class. The rest of the time, Kuryokhin worked at the piano to define a very personal and idiosyncratic style of improvisation. His first record, smuggled out of the Soviet Union in 1981, saw its original release on ...

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Anthony Braxton: Composition No.94 For Three Instrumentalists (1980)

Read "Composition No.94 For Three Instrumentalists (1980)" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

The folks at Leo Records remind us that “new jazz”, “free-jazz” or “new music” is over 40 years old as they approach their 20th anniversary as a fine, cutting-edge label often featuring old and new talent. Here, on their newly launched “Golden Years of New Jazz” label, we celebrate the first of four new releases, with a live and “previously undocumented” recording by the Anthony Braxton Trio featuring trombonist Ray Anderson and guitarist James Emery. Recorded in Bologna, Italy in ...