Pauline Oliveros 1932-2016

With respect to my own musical background, and so with regard for my own influences, Pauline Oliveros stood with Thelonious Monk as the second-to-none inspirations for my music. Although it is crucial to fold in the handful of other critical influences, the odd couple of Monk and Oliveros key the two driving principles, Oliveros’s deep listening, and, Monk’s absolute improv.

The first Deep listening Band record changed my musical life.

About Pauline Oliveros | NYT Obituary

Deep listening Institute

Deep Listening Institute (DLI) promotes the music and Deep Listening practice of pioneer composer Pauline Oliveros, providing a unique approach to music, literature, art, meditation, technology and healing. DLI fosters creative innovation across boundaries and across abilities, among artists and audience, musicians and non-musicians, healers and the physically or cognitively challenged, and children of all ages. This ever-growing community of musicians, artists, scientists and certified Deep Listening practitioners strives for a heightened consciousness of the world of sound and the sound of the world.

Tom Service’s Guide to the Music of Pauline Oliveros (2012) Guardian UK

The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Guilded Palace of Sin

The Gilded Palace of Sin isn’t strictly a country rock record. But when Parsons chose to mix the country with whatever else, he did it so well that it drew the ire of the Nashville establishment who felt that Parson’s music was a stain on the wholesomeness of pure country music. A sort of hippie invasion, if you will. Looking back, it’s funny to think about. Not only Nashville’s revulsion at Parson as an unsavory character—because there were no unsavory characters in country music—but also because country rock and country pop now dominate a large section of the consumer music market. That sort of genre blending, the country aesthetic mixed with dance beats or rock riffs, is a flower off the tree of Parson’s Cosmic American Music. Although I’m not so sure he would be happy with the dumb-downed legacy that is the current state of country music. American it is. Cosmic it is not.
Counterbalance No. 153: Flying Burrito Brothers’ ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’ by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

The Guilded Palace of Sin remains for me, after forty-six years, one of my favorite pop records of all time, certainly in the top five.

I put the following compact disc in my car player and listened to it twice.


The hook for me, once again, was Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s pedal steel magic. His playing reinforces my own sense that The Burrito Brothers were a psychedelic country band, with Sneaky’s shapeshifting steel fronting the lead guitar aesthetic with its leaps between swirly chorus-effect and bandsaw fuzz.

Plus, marvels of lip-synch and stand-up pedal steel.

Sneaky Pete also anchored The Flying Burrito Brothers on tour.
Calgary, August 1970

There are some fine audio-only concerts from 1970 on youtube.

Seattle Pop Festival – July 27, 1969

December 6, 1970 – Lyceum Ballroom – London, England

Art and Laurie

Sometime in late 1976 Lester Koenig sent to me at the Vermont Book Shop Living Legend by saxophonist Art Pepper. It blew me away. My experience of Pepper’s music had commenced in the aisle of Music Madness in Cleveland Heights a couple of years before the package of promos from Contemporary Records arrived.

Point Omega – Harvey Pekar in the late Spring, 1974 (from a remembrance of Harvey on squareONE explorations.) (Harvey walks in and heads to the jazz rack, fingers through it part way, and then notices a record displayed on the pegboard. He lifts it up and out of its holder and walks over to the counter. Harvey: This is incredible. Me: What? Harvey: You have no idea how rare these sides are. This record isn’t rare. Me: Huh? Harvey: I mean this LP contains really rare music from Art Pepper. Until now you;d have to hunt for them and probably you wouldn’t find them. Me: Okay! Harvey: You don’t know Art Pepper. I don’t even know why this record is here. Art Pepper is an alto saxophonist–is this white cat with a ton of soul. He sort of takes off from Yardbird, You don’t know Pres, Lester Young. Me: No. Harvey: hmmph. Anyway, it’s useless to sound just like somebody else. Art found his own sound and, man, all his great records are collector’s items. This is a goldmine, this one right here. Ring me up. How much?

Art Pepper was a master player. Hear for yourself.

Laurie Pepper, Art’s widow, has made her life’s project the sustenance of Art Pepper’s legacy. Laurie’s personal blog is full of recolelctions and photos of their life together. Her essential jazz blog leads to an archive of music on Bandcamp. The archive includes name-your-price gems, such as:


I was startled to see Notes of a Jazz Survivor (full documentary) on youtube. It is one of the most important movies about the great American music jazz and about one of its singing angels, Art Pepper.

thank you Laurie Pepper.

Vibrations Slowing But Not Resting

Robert Rich, serious auralnaut

Part IV. Initially I acquainted myself with the artistry of Robert Rich via his collaborating with Steve Roach on the superb Strata from 1991; but, probably I got to hear it sometime in 1993. By 1993 Rich had released ten records. Yet, at the time, I didn’t seek to unravel the Rich strand in Strata, and so he wasn’t on my radar screen. This all changed the first year working back in a record store. It was 1995 and my very hip assistant manager Chris (aka DJ Weirton,) hipped me to illbient and other urban electronic music. To make a short story shorter, both of us were all over certain labels, so when Asphodel dropped the two sets, A Swarm of Drones, and A Storm of Drones, that year, each slid into the CD player in the store pronto.

The compilations spread a massive exhalation of drones over seven sides. There, amongst tracks by Steve Roach, Ellen Fullman, Stuart Dempster, DJ Spooky, Robert Fripp and Robert Rich–those being the the only participants I was familiar with–were a host of new lights about to shine in my deep space cosmos.

Yet it was Rich and his tracks Bouyant On a Motionless Deluge, and and an excerpt from The Smorgh Sleeps On Velvet Tongues, that leaped out. I jumped on two records released the previous year, Propagation and Rainforest. Wow. Robert Rich’s ambient vision was, at that time, a bit more advanced than that of Steve Roach. His music was more diverse and the tribal elements more organic. I wouldn’t make this distinction about their relative standing today; after all, to me Roach and Rich are the equivalent of Miles Davis and John Coltrane in ambient music. But, back then, Rich’s mellow, exotic, shapely and spacy music drew me to it with an even greater siren song.

Alas, his older records were hard to get. A compilation drawn from those older records, A Troubled Resting Place, helped my investigation. I was restless, and, then excited to learn Rich had a new record finished, a collaboration, with one B. Lustmord.

Stalker. I will say this: it’s the ambient music that had the most far-reaching impact on me. It is in the same esteemed place with respect to my appreciation of ambient artistry as Mingus’s The Black Saint & the Sinner Lady is in with respect to my appreciation of jazz artistry. This is to suggest that it was through dealing with Stalker, that I began to intuit how deep was the craft and technique involved in etching sound worlds where events could be said to happen slowly.

Not as prolific as his peer Steve Roach, Rich continues to present a masterpiece every so often. Although Rich’s tribal ambient style is sustained these days in various collaborations, when left to only his own devices he seems to be recently zeroing in on a simmering, very slow, mellow dark ambient sonic vision. He’s got no competition as a drone-maker.

Robert Rich-Wikipedia

Deep Sonic Space

Pioneering and stellar ambient music creator, Steve Roach

Part III. Here is where my recollection of musical influence and inspiration gets interesting–to me. When I returned to Cleveland in 1992, one of the first resources I tapped into was the two fabulous library systems. This happens before the internet, and even commenced about a year before Cleveland Public Library got rid of their vinyl records. Also, this era (of my listening,) in Cleveland was greatly advantaged by the local used record and CD scene. (I obviously didn’t know at the time record retail would implode in Cleveland within 10 years.) But, at the time almost all my listening time was invested in jazz.

This would change very quickly because the cost of a music trial via borrowing from the library was minimal, and, the potential for a rewarding listening experience was great. For the next ten years, including my five year stint in record retail, I set in motion a huge process of discovery that roamed over the world of music. Whilst I had scratched the surface–outside of rock–in all sorts of locations, (ie. genres,) for the previous decade, upon returning to Cleveland, it was on.

Except, not everything hits one’s aural radar screen. Until you take a flyer. The flyer in this case was taken on a CD by the American instrumentalist, composer and sound designer Steve Roach. It’s spoke to me from the rank it occupied on a to-be-shelved cart at the Mayfield Heights Branch. I pulled it out. Its cover was intriguing.

Listening to Roach (Wikipedia) for the first time, I was amazed. On one hand, here was sound akin to my favored The Deep Listening Band, on the other hand here was also something unhinged from new age music. (I did not like new age music!) Familiar as I was with Stockhausen and Ligeti and Vetter and Hykes and others, Dreamtime Return seemed to me to be experimental and ambitious. And, I really like ambitious experiments!

In my estimation Dreamtime Return, four years past its release by the time I heard it in 1992, is Roach’s first complete masterwork. Although working backward through his discography circa 1992 was enjoyable enough, as it happened, Steve Roach was about to go on a roll, one that continues to this day. He’s made a mountain of brilliant music and produced many other masterworks. His collaborations with Vidna Obmana and Vir Unis opened the door to a huge wellspring of deep ambient music from Europe.

A huge influence is putting it mildly. One more thing, Steve Roach is equally accomplished as a 21st century entrepreneur, nailing down an enlightening web presence and a DIY ethos years before the scramble along the same lines was unleashed.

Steve Roach – The Magnificent Void – desert island disc for me – hard to pick just one –


Chris McGregorIn 1976, having moved to Middlebury Vermont to run the record department of The Vermont Book Shop, I soon fell in with the musos broadcasting on WRMC-fm, the radio station at Middlebury College. My main guy there was Jon Hart. He was from Philadelphia and was a total jazz head. Late that winter I started guesting on his weekly show, and by the spring we were co-hosts. I learned a lot about jazz from Jon. He hipped me to Berendt’s The Jazz Book, to Sun Ra’s Philly roots, and told me of his many music quests to Third Street Jazz, the legendary record store in his hometown. In fact, he regularly brought back from such quests the limited edtion hand-coloured covers and records Sun Ra was producing in the seventies.

One of the rituals of doing or show was diving into the station’s large collection. By 1976 I was basically oriented to the great spread of Riverside and Prestige and Blue Note hard bop, and to the masters. Whereas Jon’s interests were broader and more advanced. He was a junior by then and he knew the station’s collection like the back of his hand. Before shows he would pull out, for example, Don Pullen’s ESP record, or those of Milford Graves and Guiseppe Logan, and have me deal with ’em! Jon turned me onto Pharoah Sanders, Randy Weston, Mal Waldron, and, bless him, he pulled out Dollar Brand’s African Piano disc on Japo one evening before a show. . . .turning point.

There was also in the collection a record by another South African, like Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand,) in WRMC’s collection. It was the Neon (RCA) pianist/composer/bandleader record of Chris McGregor. One evening we auditioned it. I know I dubbed it on a cassette. I don’t remember anything of the details of what we felt about it at the time. Although, invariably Jon and me got stoked by any sound of surprise we came upon. A few years later, I had acquired every last bit of McGregor vinyl I could locate, McGregor and his small band The Blue Notes, and his big band, The Brotherhood of Breath, his music became a mainstay of my own WRMC jazz show, Groovin’ High (1980-1988.) I became a crusader for his music as record maven and broadcaster. As well, early on I reckoned McGregor to be the South African equivalent, musically, of Charle Mingus.
Blue Notes Ogun Box
Although McGregor’s big band and combo music is volcanic too, the main point of it is that McGregor’s creative vision was attached to the people of South Africa. He states as much–as recounted by his wife Maxine in her book about her husband, Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath. McGregor met with acclaim in South Africa 1961 and 1963, convening various groupings of The Blue Notes starting in 1963. Unfortunately South Africa and its apartheid system provided a singularly dastardly environment for musical ambition and artistry.

Although McGregor would play farewell concerts in 1964 in South Africa, he, as did Abdullah Ibrahim and others, chose to exile himself by the end of that year. The sad fact is that McGregor managed to survive but never really thrive as a entrepreneurial musician over the next, his final, 25 years. Maxine tells that his insistence on the integrity of his music was “over the top,” unmanageable. Which is to suggest that no compromise for commercial advantage could carry for him any appeal. Yet, records were made, tours and nightlub stays were secured, and his run of iconoclastic and courageous artistic mission, today, turns out to have been well documented.
1st Polydor Records
The many musicians and listeners who were drawn to the deep contact point of the Brotherhood’s sound were transformed. I’ve never met anyone who’s been exposed to McGregor’s music who was ambivalent about the experience. For me, simply though records, my experience galvanized my understanding of the joyful humanity that is the fuel for any profound people’s music.

This fall, Ogun, the music label originally founded to document his music, has released the box set of the year (or any year,) Blue Notes: The Ogun Collection. It collects previously released and unreleased recordings made in the mid-sixtiez. mostly by the most famous core ensemble, Dudu Pukwana, alto saxophone, Mongezi Feza, trumpet, Johnny Dyani, bass, and only surviving member, drummer Louis Moholo. I was previously familiar with two of the sessions, so the new music just blew me totally away.

This isn’t intended to be a review. (Try Sid Smith.) For me, this is holy African music. Don’t resist. The past four ears have brought forth a steady stream of essential Brotherhood music. Just this past year all three of the Brotherhood’s Polydor sessions have been issued, including a brilliant unreleased date. An unreleased trio date is crucial. Previously unheard Brotherhood of Breath dates are being released by Cunieform. ‘Embarassment of riches’ underplays the magnitude of these gifts!
Trio Our Prayer

Recently issued Chris McGregor:

Blue Notes: The Ogun Collection (5CD)*
1. Blue Notes for Mongezi
2. Blue Notes In Concert
3. Blue Notes Farewell 1964
4. Blue Notes for Johnny

Very Urgent
Up To Earth
(all recorded for Polydor

Our Prayer (previously unreleased trio date)*
source: Downtown Music Gallery

Traveling Somewhere
Bremen to Bridgewater
Eclipse At Dawn*
source: Cunieform Records

*If you can’t get them all at once! Blue Notes: The Ogun Collection qualifies as a desert island recording. Reviews of the new issues.

W.C. Bamberger’s appreciation | Tony McGregor | The Blues Notes web site

Then there is the brotherhood of musos. Hat tip to Jon Hart; and to musicologist Doug Richardson, who laid on me a precious cassette of rare South African jazz from the 50’s and early 60’s, including several tracks of McGregor’s Castle Lager Big Band and the famed 1961 septet; and to Lars Rasmussen, who besides being a tireless supporter of South African jazz, (and Abdullah Ibrahim’s discographer,) has published an important book of biographical captures and rare photos, Cape Town Jazz 1959-1963. The Photographs of Hardy Stockman. Sad story: years ago I took the two Musica solo records of McGregor (Piano Song V1&2) to work to play in the store, and inadvertently left them on the back seat. Yeah, it was summer. It took ten years to track down some quality mp3s. (Turning up the records, each worth $500+, is impossible.) Here’s the opening track, the medley Burning Bush-Mbizo’s Baby, from Piano Song Volume 1. Enjoy.


update: December 21 site: Blue Notes The South African Jazz Exiles (hideously hard to navigate but a labor of love of one MFowler.)

Szigeti/Walter Play Beethoven Violin Concerto


I enjoy all sorts of different types of music, but it is only in the genre of classical music that my favorite recording is literally ‘second-to-none.’ Years ago I ran a music department in the back of a bookstore. Somewhat awkwardly, my work desk was stuck in the rear corner. Right behind me was the stereo system for the whole store, and underneath it was the shelf of records from which the store’s musical ambiance could be programmed. I inherited a lot of programming choices, from long gone staff members and current ones. The small collection tended to classical as did the store’s ambiance. (This would change over my tenure.) Packaged in a flimsy jacket, the imported EMI issue of the 1932 concert found its way into my hands. It was as if somebody handed me a diamond but I didn’t know what the heck a diamond was or what the big deal could be.

It was 1976. I auditioned Szigeti’s traversal of Beethoven’s violin masterwork made 44 years earlier; 75 years ago from today.

Amidst the bustle of the store Szigeti’s violin climbed upward. I was transfixed.

It ascended the ladder of my esteemed classical players immediately and, as it turned out, irrevocably. Beethoven’s violin concerto demands virtuosity. It also demands sublime magnanimity. Its cadenza has to be integrated into the heroic contours of the concerto. Finally, it seems to me this particular masterwork must be made to soar without for a second mitigating its gravely humanistic, bittersweet, dimension.

EMI Cover

LP cover

Ludwig Von Beethoven
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61
Joseph Szigeti (Violin)
Bruno Walter

British Symphony Orchestra
Central Hall, Westminster, London

This is part of the Joseph Szigeti CD box from Andante.