Barre, Trevor. (2014). Beyond jazz: plink, plonk & scratch; the golden age of free music in London 1966-1972. Compass Publishing, 978-1-907308-84-0 (pbk).
The sub-title sums up nicely the ambit of the book which covers the factors surrounding the beginnings of free music (the author's preferred term, gone into at some length), the social changes taking place in the period and other musics vying for attention. But the bulk of the 330 pages focuses on the musicians and groups actually making and developing the music, with detailed chapters on the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, AMM, Incus and, grouped together in a single section, Iskra, Tony Oxley groups, Music Improvisation Company and the Howard Riley Trio. As well as background material and musician details, each chapter discusses the primary recordings of the time period. A sprinkling of photographs and images of record/CD sleeves accompany the text. The author has clearly read widely and quotes from many relevant books and magazine articles but, in addition, has consulted some musicians directly and includes 'personal communications' not generally available elsewhere. The style is chatty rather than obective and contains quite a lot of author interventions - which gigs he attended, what he was listening to at the time. The book could have done with a copy editor to correct the mistakes that occur every so often (either in fact or textual matters) and it is very unfortunate that there is not an index. It is easy to read and locate most things but sometimes, if you want to go back to check, it's very difficult to locate precisely what is required. However, overall, this is a good starting point from which to explore the world of free music.
Cerutti, Gustave and Renaud, Philippe (1988). Five British independent labels: 1968- 1987. Jazz 360 Discographies, no ISBN. A discography of Bead, Incus, Leo, Matchless, and Ogun. 'All these labels have proved their importance through their impressive series of releases, especially in the face of multinational companies concerned more with quantity of sales than quality of music. Moreover, these labels are not only still in existence, they are continually in progress.' An invaluable document though now out-of-print. To some extent updated by the label information held at this Web site and by Philippe Renaud's Simply not cricket: 1964-1994, 30 years of British jazz..
Cook, Richard and Morton, Brian, (1992). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP & cassette. Penguin Books, 014 015364 0. The first edition of this guide provides excellent background to European free improvisation through numerous brief biographies and extensive record reviews. The vinyl of the FMP, Incus and Po Torch labels, for example, is dealt with in far more detail (for obvious though sad reasons) than in the second edition, published in 1994.
Corbett, John (1994). Extended play: sounding off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein. Duke University Press, 0 8223 1473 8. The title indicates the range of this excellent book, written by a long-term enthusiast for (free) improvisation world-wide. Interviews with Han Bennink, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann and Steve Beresford, a shorter piece on Barry Guy, and lots of other snippets one way and another.
Chamberlain, Safford. (2000; 2005 paperback). An unsung cat: the life and music of Warne Marsh. Scarecrow Press, 0-8108-5350-7 (pbk). Studies in jazz no. 37.
This is a detailed look in over 400 pages of a musician whose playing is, through champions such as Anthony Braxton, in at least indirect lineage to the music created by European improvisers. In addition to comments from Braxton - a page-and-a-half that will be familiar to most Braxton followers but still good to have included - Chamberlain includes some interesting comments on Marsh's tone and improvisational approach that wouldn't have been out-of-place in Derek Bailey's book: 'Warne Marsh refused to rely on a conventionally "pretty" tone as a substitute for ideas... he was committed to the process of improvisation , and tone was an aspect of that process... Frequently Marsh seems to have deliberately sacrificed tonal appeal in order to force the listener to focus on the energy of his ideas" (p. 10). Chamberlain has, apparently, spent almost ten years researching the book, in addition to studying saxophone with Marsh, and he has interviewed extensively - 220 interviewees are listed, including Braxton and Gary Windo - to give a detailed picture of this fascinating musician. Musical analysis is provided for seven solos and the book ends up with an 83-page discography and an index.
Dean, Roger T (1992). New structures
in jazz and improvised music since 1960. Open University Press, 0 335 09897
5. The title says it all, but more than that there has been a deliberate
intention here to 'counterbalance the American bias in the jazz literature' and,
accordingly, there is a sensible, serious study of the European avant-garde from
a variety of perspectives.
Echtzeitmusik berlin (2011). echtzeitmusik berlin: self-defining a scene. Wolke Verlag, 978-3-936000-82-5.
In describing this book, I can do no better than copy what is on the back cover: "Echtzeitmusik - self-defining a scene investigates, documents, and reflects on a multilayered phenomenon within Berlin's musical culture, a phenomenon whose influence and meaning has effects that extend far beyond Berlin itself. Having emerged in the open spaces of the city's east side after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and rooted in a cultural coordinate system made up of squats and free improvisation, punk and New Music, social experimentation and performance art, the Echtzeitmusik scene has passed through an eventful history of musical and social development and matured into a wide spectrum of predominantly experimental forms of music, bordering on fields as varied as noise, electronica, trash pop, free jazz, and contemporary composed music, not to mention performance and sound art. This book is a theoretical approach to a scene that constitutes itself through practice, that describes itself with every single contribution here, that invents, defines, and positions itself through writing." This is over 400 pages (text of all essays in German and English, side-by-side) of essays, arguments, statements and interviews, primarily from the practictioners themselves; an extremely valuable document on the, still-expanding, Berlin scene. Edited by Burkhard Beins, Christian Kesten, Gisela Nauck and Andrea Neumann.
Fujak, Július (2005). Musical Corr≡la(c)tivity. University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra, Slovakia. ISBN 80-8050-870-4. This book with accompanying CD has its own page on the site.
Rouy, Gérard (2014). Brötzmann: we thought we could change the world. Conversations with Gerard Rouy. Wolke Verlag, 978-3-95593-047-9.
Gérard Rouy first heard Peter Brötzmann's music in 1971 and has been an acquaintance for a long time, writing and photographing and being closely involved in the preparation and making of Bernard Josse's film Soldier of the road: a portrait of Peter Brötzmann. However, not all the information prepared for the film could be compressed into the time available and so the wider conversations, coupled with earlier interviews - some previously published, others not - form the content of this volume. The book is 191 pages, 110 of which are text, the others being Rouy's photographs of Brötzmann across the years, reproductions of artworks, a discography (based around Brötzmann's discography on this site) and an index. In spite of the German publisher, the book is entirely in English.
The conversations cover: the early years; international connections; the FMP years; friendships, the art; the family; getting older; the horns; the future but they are wide-ranging, as in all discussions, and not circumscribed by the titles imposed on the structure of the book. There are wonderful anecdotes about many musicians, reflections on the good and less-good aspects of living one's life on the road, and, inevitably, ascerbic comments about the economic position that improvised music finds itself in in the early 21st century. There is much information not available elsewhere and this is an extremely enjoyable read.
Jenkins, Todd S. (2004). Free jazz and free improvisation: an encyclopedia. Greenwood Press, 0-313-29881-5 (two volume set).
I was kindly sent this rather expensive item (approx £100) by the publishers soon after publication (October 2004) and yet it took until January 2006 to be able to comment in any kind of objective way. While an encyclopedia, by its very nature, represents an initial jumping-off point for a subject or discipline, and decisions always have to be made on the level of comprehensiveness, it is a pity that the author and his editor were not more rigorous in a musical activity that it so relatively compact. It is perhaps inevitable that the focus would be American but, in a book that includes ‘free improvisation’ in the title, coverage of European musicians can be said to be only modest, either in the musicians included or in the extent (word count) of that coverage. What is particularly disheartening, though, is the number of errors, examples of which are:
Lindenmaier, H. Lucas and Philippe Renaud (1990). Discographical references FMP.
Booklet accompanying the FMP 11-CD box set Cecil Taylor in Berlin '88 which provides
excellent discographies for those musicians involved in Taylor's Berlin project.
Litweiler, John (1984). The Freedom
principle: jazz after 1958. Da Capo Press (hardback Morrow), 0 306 80377 1.
Concentrates on American free jazz with portraits of Ornette Coleman, Eric
Dolphy, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor and the AACM. There is
one chapter on 'Free jazz in Europe' (pp. 240-264) which, while generally
favourable, tends to undermine the integrity of the European players by making
frequent comparisons with the US scene.
Marley, Brian and Wastell, Mark (editors) (2005). Blocks of consciousness and the unbroken continuum, Sound 323, 335 pages + DVD. ISBN 978-0-9551541-0-2. Limited to 800 copies, £50 each.
A lavish (high quality paper, contemporary design throughout by Damien Beaton, nestles-in-the-hand size for browsing and flicking through, integral DVD, limited edition status) and forward-look at current developments in improvised music with only the slightest nod to the past. There is a feeling of a strong coverage of electro-acoustic music - chapters on Sachiko M (Clive Bell), John Wall (Brian Marley) and Richard Chartier (Will Montgomery) - but not exclusively so, with Dan Warburton tackling composition vs. improvisation and David Toop on the ideology of improvisation. Rhodri Davies has secured statements from 23 people responding to the question 'What are you doing with your music" varying from the considered, perceptive and thought-provoking to the garrulous and, just occasionally, the crass, the banal and the self-serving. And then there's David Reid's DVD, an excellent electronic eye for those of us who couldn't be there, whether it's London, Leeds, Manchester or Derby (which, in this instance, I was). A modern cornucopia of musicians and musical areas not covered in this kind of detail outside of the periodical literature.
Martinelli, Francesco (2002). Joëlle Léandre discography, Bandecchi & Vivaldi. Paperback, 160 pages. ISBN 88-8341-015-7.
. To call this book a 'discography' does it a serious disservice; it is so much more with commentaries, the inclusion of reviews, pieces by Léandre herself, and indexes by album, track and musician (all in English). The main section is organized by recordings in chronological order with the usual discographical details but interspersed with reviews and occasional comments. Most importantly, there's a feast of photographs. Maybe it's a sign of age (my own!) but the essence of photographs seems to be what they tell us about our view of the world now and how it compares and contrasts with our view years ago: maybe there is a similarity but look at how much has changed in the meantime. So we get not only young Joëlles but young others as well - who is that person? Oh, OK! - and many inspiring and also amusing images like JL and Daunik Lazro apparently claiming equal ownership of a shopping trolley. The photographs do bring this book to life but there are still things to be learnt throughout by even the most dedicated Léandreophile. I particularly enjoyed the text of Taxi! and the comment, "You don't see many of those around these days" seems also to apply to books like this.
Martinelli, Francesco (2001). Mario Schiano discography, Bandecchi & Vivaldi. Paperback, 111 pages. ISBN 88-8341-008-1.
. The first edition of this discography was published, in Italian only, in 1996. This expanded edition is in English, updates the recordings to 2000 and, in addition to a straight discographical listing, includes occasional comments from Martinelli and the full text of reviews, taken from publications such as Cadence, Coda, Improjazz, and The wire, even the very occasional one from Down Beat! Sprinkled throughout are a range of fascinating photographs which not only support the text but indicate - as always in these circumstances - the changing fashions, particularly through hair styles. In addition to official recordings there are appendices listing 'other' recordings (tapes, TV, radio broadcasts), a bibliography (largely of record reviews) and an overview essay by Martinelli. Indexes are provided. Altogether, this excellent publication should do much to increase awareness of Mario Schiano for those who have not yet heard him.
Médioni, Franck (2011) Solo: Joëlle Léandre conversations with Franck Médioni Kadima Collective, 161 pages (no ISBN).
This 161 page book is, in effect, an autobiography of Joëlle Léandre through conversations at her home in Paris over a two year period with journalist and writer Franck Médioni. It is an English translation, by Jeffrey Grice, of the 2008 French-language book Joëlle Léandre: à voix basse, Èditions M.F. Paperback, 144 pages. ISBN 978-2-9157-9428-1. As Joëlle says, "This is my life" and much of it is here: influences, family, composition, improvisation, working with different art forms (poetry, sculpture, texts) and reflections and comments on individual musicians, composers and recordings. Of the many comments, I particularly like Joëlle's analogy of the varied types of music she plays and is interested in - classical, contemporary, jazz, free - as a compost encouraging the germination of seeds and the gradual growth of flowers. There is an introduction by Philippe Fénelon, a selected discography, a list of commissioned works, an index and, only in the English edition, 16 pages of photographs. This edition includes a DVD and a CD featuring different 30-minute solo performances.
Mekick, Ben van (2008). Han Bennink cover art, Huis Clos, 64 pages. ISBN 90 1234 4568 9. http://www.uitgeverijhuisclos.nl
. A hardback monograph produced in 750 copies with a short essay on Han Bennink and his relationship to art and then a description, accompanied by colour illustrations, of all the covers he has produced for ICP and other labels between 1967 and early 2008. In Dutch and English.
Ohshima, Kouichi (1997). Peter Brötzmann discography.
Improvised Company, Japan, no ISBN. Fifty-four page discography, complete to March 1997.
Peterson, Lloyd. (2006k). Music and the creative spirit: innovators in jazz, improvisation, and the avant garde. Scarecrow Press, 0-8108-5284-5 (pbk). Studies in jazz no. 52.
Here, in over 300 pages, is collected interview material or commentaries from 41 musicians arranged alphabetically from Anderson (Fred) to Zorn. Unfortunately, none of the material is dated and the fact that no indication is provided anywhere about how this was gathered - in spite of preface, acknowledgements and an introduction - leaves one with the feeling that much is the result of impersonal e-mail correspondences rather than conducted in face-to-face interviews. Certainly in many cases there is little feeling of individual personalities coming across and the constant repetition of questions provides a numbing sensation rather than what must have been an intended clarity, indicating how different musicians responded to the same query. Poor and inconsistent editing also suggests that some of this material has been submitted in word processed form and not subsequently checked. One of the drawbacks, of course, is the 'musician is special' syndrome, and that we are in the presence of persons with access to knowledge not available to normal mortals. This is so clearly not the case, as is shown many times throughout this book, and not only when they are talking about something they might not be supposed to know something about - i.e. the functioning of the wider world - but also about the subject of the book, creativity. But perhaps the variety and frustration of the responses, from self-interested, isolationist and lacking insight to wider and objective perceptions, gives the book its ultimate fascination. There is not much to make one jump for joy, but there are excellent, thought-provoking sensible responses - as one would expect - from George Lewis and Evan Parker. The interviews of Derek Bailey and Peter Brötzmann are good but too short, though PB is also included in a wider 'Chicago Roundtable'. From the European perspective, Mats Gustafsson, Barry Guy and Paal Nilssen-Love are also included.
Renaud, Philippe (1995). Simply not cricket: 1964-1994, 30 years of British jazz. Philippe Renaud (self published from 14 Allee des Myosotis, 41000 BLOIS, France), 2 9509156 0 4. Second edition of a mammoth undertaking and an essential reference source for British and - where they overlap - European free improvisation though, of course, by its very title the book is wider ranging than that. As Renaud points out in his preface, this is not a discography in the true sense as individual track listings are not included and no attempt is made to collate all the appearances of a particular musician in a single section; this is left for the reader to do via the index. What is provided is a pretty near exhaustive listing of artists' recordings by title, presenting recording date and overall personnel. To present a more detailed analysis would run to several volumes, though I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't being planned somewhere along the line. Three sections are provided: records released by British musicians irrespective of label; recordings of rest- of-the-world musicians which feature British players; and finally, contributions to recordings where the musician has little or no solo space e.g. as a member of an orchestra or big band. And there's a photograph of Paul Rutherford's trombone on the cover. What more could one want? Most people, myself included, owe a vote of thanks to Philippe for his efforts in putting this together, especially for tracking down details of those little-known or hard-to-track-down records and CDs. Renaud is also one of the editors behind Improjazz.
Prévost, Edwin (1995). No sound is innocent, Harlow, Essex: Copula. ISBN 0-9525492-0-4.
. Written by one of the founding members of
AMM, the book is divided into three sections: AMM and the practice of self-invention;
Meta-musical narratives; and Essays. The book is a bringing together of connected and unconnected writings
on a wide range of parameters that have a bearing on the making of music and particularly those issues that
come into play in (and sometimes before and after) improvisation. Prévost points out that 'The meta-musical
narratives were constructed, as an act of writing, in a manner parallel to a musical improvisation - or as near as I
could make it. Each narrative is commenced from a new moment. I worry away at the problems discussed, defining while
I think... Consequently many of the themes recur, each time approached from a slightly different perspective and seen
within a different constellation of issues.... I would prefer each narrative to be read separately and independently,
in the order of the readers' choice'. There is no direct discussion or criticism of individual musicians or recordings,
and this is certainly no manual, no quick route to the practicalities of improvisation. Rather it is a collection
of feelings and perspectives, sometimes discursive, occasionally acerbic, invariably provocative. In addition, there are a number of Appendices which include a historical
summary of AMM (included on this web site), an AMM discography, a discography of associated recordings, and a
Prévost, Edwin (2004). Minute particulars: meaning in music-making in the wake of hierarchical realignments and other essays, Harlow, Essex: Copula. ISBN 0-9525492-1-2.
In 177 pages Eddie Prévost includes twenty-nine thought-provoking essays on ideas, perceptions, reactions and the practices of improvised music, as well as a short index. Reactions to the real world - in particular, the political, corporate and commercial ones - are never far from the surface and the place of the individual is mirrored through that of the musician developing his or her own position, responsiveness and voice in a group context. Discourses include the questioning of terminology such as 'non-idiomatic' to describe improvised music, cover sonic extremes and racial focus in current and recent musical endeavours, and revisit an hilarious review of reviews of the Ganelan Trio's first London concert in 1984. The premise with which each essay begins is analysed, explored and intellectually wrestled with so that even if the reader doesn't concur with the conclusions, at least there is food for further thought. Occasionally there is the impression of a Candide innocently walking through an embattled and battered musical landscape wondering where it's all gone wrong. Not sufficiently to suggest that the author made the wrong decision in becoming a musician - if there was a choice - and, in any case, there is the occasional footnote to indicate that perhaps (some) things are now on the mend. A recommended read.
Robinson, Perry (2002). The traveler, by Perry Robinson and Florence Wetzel. Lincoln: Writers Club Press/iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-21538-9. 413pp. http://www.iuniverse.com.
Even now, at 63, Perry Robinson seems to fall into the best-kept secret category. In spite of playing and recording with free jazz musicians such as Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon and Roswell Rudd, appearing on historically-important recordings such as Liberation Music Orchestra and Escalator over the hill, and working with the Brubecks, Günter Hampel and Annette Peacock, Robinson is still not widely known as a jazz clarinet player and improviser.
The book intersperses Robinson's recollections with comments from others, some written specially, some culled from liner notes or other extant sources (Bill Dixon's comment comes from Dixonia, for example). Son of the composer Earl Robinson (who wrote Joe Hill), the journey described includes the McCarthy witch-hunts, stories of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and others, moving through early free jazz, the loft scene and up to today. And many byways in between. There is a brief chapter on European avant-garde which begins, "The first free European group I ever heard was the Peter Brötzmann trio with Fred van Hove and Han Bennink at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival in 1972. I tripped out, it blew me totally". [For a recent (2001) CD see Bob's pink Cadillac]
Schwarz, Barbara (ed.) (2006). The sound of squirrel meals: the work of Lol Coxhill. Hamburg: blackpress. viii, 152pp. (Osterstrasse 52, D-20259 Hamburg, Germany; +49-40-4309 7866; email: email@example.com)
In his introduction to this book, Steve Beresford writes, 'I have lost track of the year Barbara started this project, but painting the Forth Bridge is a reasonable, if clichéd, comparison...' and I have similar vague memories of both Steve and Barbara mentioning this to me shortly after I started the web site. And now it's here: 5 pages of biography and photos (Lol as a boy scout and in a teenage football team...); articles and interviews spanning 26 years; a bibliography and list of films, videos and television appearances; and, pride of place, 70 pages of discography interspersed with excerpts from sleeve notes, relevant interview and article extracts and comments from Lol scattered throughout. An excellent browsing companion to make one realise the depth and variety of Lol's work and interests and to make you think "Oh! I didn't realise he'd done that; how amazing!".
Sutherland, Roger (1994). New perspectives in music, London: Sun Tavern Fields. ISBN 0-9517012-6-6.
An account of the more radical innovations that have taken place in music since 1945, including electronic composition, musique concrète, minimalism, improvisation and computer music. The book is divided into three sections: The European avant-garde, dealing with Russolo, Webern, serialism, electronic music, music and speech, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Nono, and Parmegiani; The American experimentalists, covering Cowell, Cage, graphics and indeterminacy, live electronic music, and systems music; and Transatlantic perspectives - intermedia, improvised music, imaginary orchestras, and sound sculptures and invented instruments. The book concludes with a general bibliography, biographies, a select bibliography of individual composers, and a shortlist of recommended recordings.
The book is A4 format and well illustrated with photographs and reproductions of posters and graphic scores.
The 23-page chapter on improvised music offers a deliberately selective view of the subject being
'principally concerned with those forms of improvisation which evolved within the post-war classical tradition
and which were a logical extension of compositional practices in the work of such composers as Cardew,
Stockhauen, Rzewski and Evangelisti'. As such, the chapter covers AMM, Gruppo Nuova Consonanza, Musica Elettronica
Viva, Cardew and the Scatch Orchestra.There is a particularly good description of Tony Oxley's early work, in
and out of the Howard Riley Trio.
Toop, David (ed.). (1974). New/Rediscovered musical instruments volume 1. Quartz/Mirliton, London, 1974; reprinted by Pleasure of the Text Records, 2015.
From Nate Wooley's web site (link above): "Originally published in the early 1970s, New/Rediscovered was a pamphlet featuring the invented instruments of a group of British experimentalists, many of whom went on to change the face of improvised, electronic, and composed music in the late 20th century. Featuring diagrams, text, and pictures from Evan Parker, Paul Lytton, David Toop, Max Eastley, Paul Burwell, and Hugh Davies, the very limited edition of this reprint gives a front row seat to anyone interested in an inside peek into an interesting period of creativity." The 28-page booklet outlines the following creations: Davies: the shozyg, the jack and jill box, the springboard, and the squeak-box; Burwell: bamboo pan trumpets, wooden gongs, the gong tree, various cymbals, gongs (including the cargonghub) and drums and the communal blown instrument ("Not yet built - will be based on part of the exhaust manifold system of a military vehicle and an old horn taken from a wrecked Public Address system"); Parker: the heteroglottal clarinet, the doppler-phone, and the giant buzz drone; Lytton: the Lyttonophone, the microtonal shovelaphone, the flexatonaphone, and clock spring, bolt, speedball on aeroplane elastic drum; Eastley: aeolophones, hydrophones, and hydroaeolophones; Toop: shell hat, various bundled flutes, the wasp flute (no wasps being injured in the creation of sound!), and the prepared guitar.
van den Berg, Erik (2009). De Wereld als trommel, Amsterdam: Thomas Rap. ISBN 978 90 6005 671 4.
The first book-length biography of Han Bennink, 240 pages, 16 pages of photographs and including a complimentary CD of music not available anywhere else: Han's earliest recordings plus music with Sonny Rollins, Art Hodes and Misha Mengelberg, among others - full details available here. Also included is a 'blindfold' test, a selected discography with web links, and modest bibliography for supplementary reading. The book is currently only published in Dutch - making it difficult, for me, to provide a more thorough discussion of its contents - though an Engligh-language version is being considered. Let's hope this arrives soon!
Watson, Ben (2004). Derek Bailey and the story of free improvisation, London: Verso (http://www.versobooks.com; firstname.lastname@example.org). ISBN 1844670031.
443 pages of Derek Bailey viewed partly through the eyes of Ben Watson but also verbatim through detailed interviews with Bailey, Tony Oxley and Gavin Bryars and shorter contributions from other musicians such as Steve Lacy and Eugene Chadbourne. There's a great amount that's extremely enjoyable, particularly taking in the early days in Sheffield, the explorations of Joseph Holbrooke, interludes in the Channel Islands, and Bailey talking about close friends, musicians or non-musicians.
Over 100 pages are devoted to Company, not surprisingly given the importance and relevance of the enterprise to Bailey's musical make-up though, inevitably, covering a 17-year period, some of the individual annual events are only sketched out. Though there have been outlines of Company elsewhere, particularly in Derek Bailey's own Improvisation, its nature and practice in music, it is a pity that this part of the text features less verbatim comments - even from Bailey, but certainly from the multitude of musicians who have appeared at these events - than at other places in the book. The final main chapter focuses on Bailey's position as international free improvisation ambassador, moving between Japan, New York, London and Barcelona, and places in between, and comes pretty well up-to-date with a description of Limescale. There's a Derek Bailey discography and an Incus discography but, speaking perhaps as a librarian, it is a real pity that there is no single bibliographic listing of the multitude of references made throughout the book, and that some references are even left dangling in the air. Apart from that, an extremely enjoyable and recommended read.
Whitehead, Kevin (1998). New Dutch swing, New York: Billboard. ISBN 0-8230-8334-9.
This book lives up to its sub-title - 'an in-depth examination of Amsterdam's vital and distinctive jazz scene' - covering in its extensive first section the ideas and innovations of the three main protagonists of improvised music in Holland: Han Bennink, Willem Breuker and Misha Mengelberg. From here the spokes radiate out to cover, amongst others, the ICP Orchestra, Ernst Reijseger, Tristan Honsinger, Maarten Altena and many others in varying amounts of detail. A chapter on the 'third generation' covers Peter van Bergen, Cor Fuhler, and The Ex though many musicians carrying the flame forward are also discussed and interviewed throughout the book. A discography points readers in a number of listening directions.
The style varies from the frustrating - clearly having been written for US readers and using any amount of Americanisms - to the absorbing and involving in descriptions of musical performances. This is where Whitehead excels and he also provides a substantial amount of background and historical detail, the whole supported by his own personal observations. Vital for those interested in the new Dutch scene because, apart from a number of disconnected interviews and articles in magazines and CD notes, no-one else has covered this music with this
level of focus.
Zwerin, Mike (2005). The Parisian jazz chronicles: an improvisational memoir, New Haven, Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10806-0.
Reflections on the life and work of jazz musicians and others sparked off by interviews or focused observations are interwoven into a very fine tapestry alongside the autobiography - the personal, playing and writing development - of Mike Zwerin. As an American in Paris, with family expectations that he pursue the corporate American way, this is perhaps less a story of rebellion and more one of dogged - if frequently diverted and distracted - pursuit of one's guiding star: music. Comparisons between life, work and culture in the US and Europe, particularly France, are pretty near spot-on and there are also discussions on serious and non-serious music. Read quickly, the subtitle might suggest a memoir of an improvisational life but Zwerin cunningly has more than this in mind. One chapter might traverse a logical arc from beginning to end, others will amble off their starting theme into related territory and return without causing the reader anxieties, whereas in those chapters when you think he's totally lost the plot, shards bring the seemingly divergent elements back into a well-argued whole by the end. There is a real feeling of improvising musician and crafted writer working side-by-side on this. Mind you, by the frequent references to drugs in various chapters there are also probably times when he did lose the plot. Artists covered include, among many others, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Michel Petrucciani, Wayne Shorter, Bob Dylan and Melvin Van Peebles. There's a great Jim Hall story and reflection on creativity, all done in less than a page. But the point is not who is in but the way it all comes together into a well-written and extremely enjoyable book on jazz, improvisation and lots, lots more.
10 Baddow Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0DG; tel: +1245 353878; fax: +1245 352490; e-mail: TTaylor228@aol.com; http://www.alternativeroute.com/avant.htm.
Sub-titled 'Jazz, improvised and contemporary classical music', Avant was run by Trevor Taylor of Soundworld/FMR (see Independent Record Labels). The magazine included articles, interviews, record reviews and a photo gallery and a free CD - samplers generally focussing on a particular label each time - with one or two tracks unavailable elsewhere. No longer produced.
Cadence Building, Redwood, NY 13679, USA. Telephone 315/287 2852; fax 315/287 2860; http://www.cadencemagazine.com.
Published monthly up until the October 2007 issue when it went quarterly. However, Cadence Magazine will cease with the Oct-Nov-Dec 2011 issue though the intention is that the website will remain.
In its original form, Coda was published six times a year in January, March, May, July, September and November with assistance from the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council. Coverage over the whole of jazz and there was usually, though by no means always, some European perspective. 1994, covered, for example, Han Bennink, Louis Moholo, Keith Tippett, Trevor Watts, in addition to reviews of FMP and Leo releases. In this form the magazine continued into the late 1990s but then changed editors and publisher and became more mainstream. The current website http://www.coda1958.com suggests there will be some sort of revival in 2011.
Box 19, 310 42 Haverdal, Sweden. Telephone, +46 (0)35 -512 10; fax +46 (0)35-481 32; e-mail: email@example.com.
The title translates into English as Without borders and the subtitle magasinfor samtida musik as magazine for new music. Published quarterly in March, May, September, December, Granslost covers jazz, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, Western art music and 'world' or folk music. The first issue featured articles on Peter Brötzmann and Barry Guy, and future issues have included Peter Kowald, Sven-Åke Johansson, Mats Gustafsson, and Michael Zerang. Also includes extensive record reviews. Good production and photographs on quality paper at a cost of 240 swedish crowns. All text is in Swedish. No longer produced.
14 allée des Myosotis, 41000 BLOIS, France; tel/fax: +33 (0) 2 54 43 14 80; mobile: 06 85 08 38 69; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://perso.wanadoo.fr/improjazz/.
Edited by Patrick Gentet and Philippe
Renaud, ten excellent issues per year are published with the focus most definitely
on improvised music, some jazz, new music, incorporating interviews and articles, news and
information, and reviews of books, concerts and records (and a special section
on News from Patrice Roussel!). Recent issues have featured, for example, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Joëlle Léandre, Ig Henneman, Pascal Contet, Sylvain Kassap, Paul Rogers and Noël Akchote. Improjazz also acts as
distributor for European and American labels difficult to find in France. All text is
in French; price is €45 for 10 issues in Europe (France €40) and €50 for 10 issues for the rest
of the world. The Improjazz interview with Evan Parker is available at this
Web site, as is an appreciation of Louis Moholo-Moholo from the May 2005 issue.
'An online music journal' run by Bill Shoemaker with substantial features and interviews - Louis Moholo-Moholo, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Keith Jarrett - CD reviews, commentaries and looks back to forgotten vinyl items. An excellent online resource.
The six monthly journal of the London Musicians' Collective featuring a wide variety of articles on all aspects of improvisation (world-wide), welcoming contributions from practicioners. There is an excellent spread of record reviews and, for example, the December 1994 issue went out to members with a special 20 page supplement. The July 1996 issue was supplied with a free vinyl single and the December 1996 issue with a free CD focussing on sampling. Intention is to continue with free CD in future issues.
Free to members of the LMC; distributed in the UK by Impetus, shelf price in the UK £5.00.
The LMC ceased in 2009 and Resonance is no longer produced.
Subtitled 'improvised & experimental musics, fiction, film', the name came from, apparently, American slang, for 'a gaping sightseer; an inquisitive person'. Was published two to three times per year, and provided a generally well-informed coverage of the European improv scene. Coverage included John Butcher, Chris Burn, Company, Evan Parker, Paul Rogers, John Russell, John Stevens, Phil Wachsmann.
No longer produced.
45-46 Poland Street, London W1V 3DF; telephone 0171 439 6422; fax 071 287 4767; e-mail: email@example.com; http://www.dfuse.com/the-wire.
Published 12 times per year (previously 11 pa with combined Dec/Jan issue). From a beginning that was focussed very much on improvised music and some free jazz, the magazine has been through various changes including a more populist guise before its current incarnation expressed by its subtitle: 'Adventures in modern music', including 'electronica, post-rock, drum 'n' bass, new jazz & classical, global'. More recent issues have featured AMM, John Russell, Pauline Oliveros, a brief piece on Mats Gustafsson, and snippets of Derek Bailey all over the place. The Wire Index is available online.
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