[Music] The Ed Palermo Big Band – Eddy Loves Frank

Judging by the quality of the music and the fact that this is Ed Palermo’s third full-length album dedicated to Frank Zappa’s avant-big-band interpretations, I think that the album title is apropos.  Eddy does indeed loves Frank!  From his Bandcamp site:

Ed and his amazing 16 piece band (+ guests) return with his third album of his distinctive, big-band interpretations of the great 20th century composer, Frank Zappa. This body of work has won them huge acclaim from both new and old fans of the music and they even appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition for a short feature which was heard by millions of listeners in 2006. For those not already familiar with Ed’s colorful, jazz-based arrangements of Zappa’s compositions, Ed has led a big band for 30 years (!) and has had his band performing the music of Frank Zappa for 15 years. Many years of playing these pieces in front of hugely enthusiastic crowds have honed the band’s skills interpreting Zappa’s beautiful but notoriously difficult material to where they are able to perform these challenging charts with apparent ease. All of these musicians are high caliber, hugely talented NYC professional players, and most of them have been playing this music for a decade and a half with this group, not because it is a good paying gig (it isn’t) but because they all admire and appreciate the genius of Zappa’s work and they love having the opportunity to be able to perform these terrifically exciting charts.

“Wonderful, breathtaking, fantastic, exhilarating, great sound, great production, great musicianship…I run out of superlatives…”
– paradoxone.uk

“Palermo developed these charts during years of live shows with these musicians, and their mastery of the material shows in the performances, which turn on a dime yet feel fierce with spontaneous invention…. Palermo’s arrangements and these performances are precise, dedicated, raucous and incisive—just like Zappa himself.”
– JazzTimes

“Palermo uses Zappa’s compositions as a framework for inspiration, rather than simply trying to recreate what is already available on CD.”
– allaboutjazz.com 


[Music] Maurice Louca – Elephantine

Maurice Louca is a 36-year-old composer and guitarist/pianist from Cairo, Egypt.  This work, a co-release by the labels Northern Spy and Sub Rosa Records is his masterpiece; a composition sitting on the apex of psychedelic progressive rock, modern classical, jazz and shaabi music.  Really swinging listening.  From his Bandcamp website:

On Elephantine, his new Northern Spy/Sub Rosa album, Cairo-based Maurice Louca guides a 12-piece ensemble through a panoramic 38-minute odyssey, which he describes as his most ambitious project yet.

One of the most gifted, prolific and adventurous figures on Egypt’s thriving experimental arts scene, Louca has in recent years garnered a global reputation through two previous solo albums and an expanding, evolving lineup of genre-defying collaborations. The Wire called his 2014 sophomore solo effort, Salute the Parrot, “remarkable music—dense, driven and splashed with colour.” In 2017, the self-titled debut by Lekhfa, the trio of Louca and vocalists Maryam Saleh and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, was praised as an “edgy triumph” in The Guardian and picked by BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction as one of the very best 12 albums of 2017.

For Louca, 36, Elephantine serves as both the pinnacle of his wide-ranging experience and a bold next step in his development as a composer, arranger and bandleader. The celebrated Egyptian visual artist Maha Maamoun has created the album cover art, following her contribution to Salute the Parrot. “There was a blessed thing about the process of making this record,” Louca says of the sessions, held last year in Stockholm and featuring the leader on guitar and piano. “The dynamic between us musically but also as people …What these musicians delivered was really more than I could ask for, Everyone played their hearts out on this record.”

The music—from its pensive lulls through its stretches of hard-grooving hypnosis and moments of avant-jazz catharsis—testifies to that rapport. Best absorbed as a continuous performance, Elephantine’s six individually named tracks nonetheless present striking self-contained landscapes. “The Leper” entrances through a deft use of repetition that Louca gleaned from cosmic jazz, African and Yemeni music and other transcendental modal traditions. (Those who’ve followed Louca’s work might be reminded of the Dwarfs of East Agouza, his mesmeric unit with Shalabi and Sun City Girls’ Alan Bishop.)

“Laika” manages to evoke the minimalists, though on the combustible terms of ’60s and ’70s free jazz; “One More for the Gutter,” on which Louca ingeniously pits one half of his ensemble against the other, albeit in a synergistic way, mines similarly fiery terrain. “The Palm of a Ghost” distills the band to a Cairo-rooted core, featuring stirring spontaneous melodies from oud player Natik Awayez, violinist Ayman Asfour and vocalist Nadah El Shazly. The album’s title track follows, and it too blurs the border between composition and improvisation with gorgeously atmospheric results. “Al Khawaga,” with its colossal ensemble riffs, beautifully dirty swing and impassioned blowing, is an ideal finale.

Elephantine will be released on Vinyl (via Sub Rosa), CD & digital streaming/download (Northern Spy). It was recorded in Stockholm in August 2017 at Stureparken Studios by Ronny Lahti, mixed by Adham Zidan and mastered by Heba Kadry.


released February 1, 2019

Tommaso Cappellato (Drums/Percussions)
Ozun Usta (Drums/Percussions)
Elsa Bergman (Bass)
Pasquale Mirra (Vibraphone)
Piero Bittolo (Baritone Sax/Alto Sax/Bass Flute)
Anna Högberg (Alto Sax)
Rasmus Kjærgård Lund (Tuba)
Isak Hedtjärn (Clarinet/Bass Clarinet)
Nadah El Shazly (Vocals)
Natik Awayez (Oud)
Ayman Asfour (Violin)
Maurice Louca (Guitar/Piano)

Recorded by: Ronny Lahti
(In the Palm of a Ghost) recorded by: Adham Zidan
Mixed by: Adham Zidan
Mastered by: Heba Kadry

[Music] The Sensational Guitars of Dan and Dale – Batman and Robin

I defer to weird music historian Irwin Chusid’s notes on this rather magnificent Sun Ra-related release:

This is not a Sun Ra album, nor does it sound like a Sun Ra album—but Sun Ra and various members of his Arkestra are on it. This 1966 budget-label project was an attempt by producer Tom Wilson (1931–1978) to cash in on the Batman craze launched by the popular superhero comic book-turned-TV series.

“The Sensational Guitars of Dan and Dale” were not a real group—it was a marquee name for a rotating cast of session pros earning rent money by playing on hastily recorded albums intended to turn quick bucks on various musical and cultural fashions. There are at least 20 “Dan & Dale” albums listed at Discogs, most issued on the Diplomat label. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, there were no musicians named Dan or Dale involved. In fact, few, if any, musicians have been identified from any D&D projects—”Batman” being a notable exception, and for good reason.

Wilson had produced Sun Ra’s first LP, Jazz by Sun Ra, in 1957 for Wilson’s short-lived (but legendary) Cambridge-based Transition label. After Ra relocated from Chicago to New York in 1961, Wilson contacted Sunny, booked him in a Newark NJ studio, and produced The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra, issued in 1962 on Savoy.

The Batman project occurred after Wilson’s resignation from a staff producer position at Columbia Records, where he helmed albums by Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Eddie Harris, Herbie Mann, and others. By 1966, Wilson had begun selling his services to the highest bidder as a freelancer, and produced many historic projects for MGM-Verve, including the first two albums by the Mothers of Invention, the first two Velvet Underground releases, and albums by Nico, Hugh Masekela, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and others. (More info:ProducerTomWilson.com).

Despite the Batman album’s notoriety among Ra collectors and cognoscenti, Sun Ra was not originally slated to play on it. His involvement was purely circumstantial.

Wilson had invited members of The Blues Project to play on the session. According to the band’s keyboardist, Al Kooper, the group wasn’t told in advance about the “Batman” theme—they were just hired to show up, play, and get paid. Blues Project guitarists Danny Kalb and Steve Katz, bassist Andy Kulberg, and drummer Roy Blumenfeld turned up. But Kooper declined. The gig coincided with his father’s 50th birthday party, which Kooper didn’t want to miss. So Wilson had to find an organist to replace Kooper.

Sun Ra was Al Kooper’s replacement. Sunny brought along Arkestra saxophonists John Gilmore and Pat Patrick, and several other session pros also appeared on the date.

Kooper has long been listed as having performed on this album. But he ain’t on it. I interviewed him several times in 2017 and he was insistent about this. Furthermore, Kooper says he never met Sun Ra.

As for the music, it’s fun, but hardly groundbreaking. The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra, by Robert L. Campbell and Christopher Trent, offers this critical assessment: “Except for the Batman theme, nearly all of the music on this album was plundered from various sources. ‘Batman’s Batmorang’ uses the slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony; ‘Penguin’s Umbrella’ takes over Chopin’s A-flat Polonaise; ‘Batman and Robin Swing’ is based on the love theme from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet; and ‘Batmobile Wheels’ makes do with Bach’s Minuet in G, already recycled as [‘A Lover’s Concerto’] by the Toys. ‘The Riddler’s Retreat’ lifts its guitar licks from ‘She Loves You’ by the Beatles.”

This album has been bootlegged countless times over the decades. As long as we’re cataloging Sun Ra’s discography on Bandcamp, we figured we’d offer a Batman bootleg too. We claim no rights in the recordings or the compositions. In Sun Ra’s monumental catalog, the Batman album is a mere footnote.

— Irwin Chusid

[Podcast] A Miscellany of Tasteful Music – December 29, 2014


A Miscellany of Tasteful Music – December 29, 2014 by Rudy Carrera on Mixcloud

It’s been awhile, but here’s the final podcast of the year! The track listing is as follows:

1. Peter Fox – Alles Neu
2. Hilarion Nguema – Gabon Pays De Joie
3. The Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today
4. Carlos Gardel – La Muchacha
5. Ennio Morricone – Dal Mare
6. Al Bowlly – Fancy Our Meeting
7. Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
8. Peter Thomas – Raumpatrouille Orion
9. Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians – Auld Lang Syne (Film Version)
10. The Durutti Column – Tomorrow (Live, from the album ‘Domo Arigato’)