Alternative Fox presents a reissue of Jan Dukes De Grey’s Sorcerers, originally issued in 1969. Sorcerers is the group’s debut, recorded when Jan Dukes de Grey were still the duo of multi-instrumentalists Derek Noy, the band’s songwriter and lead vocalist, and Michael Bairstow. The 18 songs of the album, recorded in October 1969, show within a pure folk style the subtle use of multiple instruments like guitars, woodwinds, brass, keyboards, and percussion. Every song conjures up its own time and place, from the quiet pastoral delights of “28th June, Village Song” to the urban pulse of “City After 3:00 AM,” the homage to the vast expanses of an idealized “Texas,” and the Eastern promise of “Turkish Time.” Moods shift dramatically from the anger-drenched “M.S.S.” to the medieval musings of “Dragons” and the wonder of a “Butterfly.” One of the most brilliant acoustic experiments of folk-psych-prog rock ever.
Alternative Fox presents a reissue of Satisfaction’s self-titled album, originally released in 1970. Trumpeter Mike Cotton had played with The Beatles and others before forming Satisfaction with former Artwoods guitarist Derek Griffiths and former Unit 4+2 bassist/vocalist Lem Lubin, along with drummer Bernie Higginson, saxophonist/flutist Nick Newell, and trombonist John Beecham. Signing to Decca, their self-titled debut album was released in February 1971, produced by Decca staffer David Hitchcock. Somehow, the band folded by the autumn of 1971, with Cotton taking the horn section to The Kinks for The Muswell Hillbillies (1971). Includes three bonus tracks.
Alternative Fox present a reissue of Musica Elettronica Viva’s United Patchwork, originally released in 1978. One of the most mythical experimental groups of all time, Musica Elettronica Viva was formed in 1966 by a group of American composers in Rome, its nucleus comprised of pianist Frederic Rzewski, sound improviser Alvin Curran, and the improvisatory keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum. Taking cues from John Cage and David Tudor, MEV employed open, limitless structures, using found instruments, toys, a homemade synthesizer, and the first Moog to reach mainland Europe. Improv and critical listening practices aimed to liberate listeners from the constraints of bourgeois capitalism and as their sound evolved, forms of Jewish mysticism and surrealist automaticism pointed to transcendent potential. An abortive US tour in 1970 split MEV into three units, but the Kabbalistic Dixieland band later reformed with Rzewski, Curran, and Teitelbaum joined by saxophonist Steve Lacy, trombonist Garrett List, and keyboardist Karl Berger. The resultant double album United Patchwork, recorded in November 1977 at Mama Dog for Horo Records, captures MEV in all of their discordant, improvisatory glory, from Teitelbaum’s side-long opener, “Via Della Luce”, to the honking noise of Lacy’s “Fox”, the excessive keyboard meanderings of Curran’s “Psalm”, Berger’s vibraphone folly, “Cross Over One” and Rzewski’s ponderous “What Is Freedom”.
The musician and spiritual seeker Alice Coltrane was much more than just John Coltrane’s second wife. One of the few harpists to feature prominently in jazz, she was also a renowned pianist and composer and her interest in spiritual matters greatly helped steer her husband deeper into Krishna consciousness, which had significant bearing on his music, most notably evident on A Love Supreme (1965). This mesmerizing performance, held at Carnegie Hall four years after John’s untimely passing as part of a benefit event for Swami Satchidananda’s Integral Yoga Institute, comprised a stunning and largely improvised rendition of Coltrane’s “Africa,” with Alice’s subtle piano and harp expressions excellently framed by the wailing saxes of Pharaoh Sanders and Archie Shepp, Cecil McBee and Jimmy Garrison trading non-standard bass lines, a dual drum onslaught from Clifford Jarvis and Ed Blackwell, along with members of the Institute on harmonium and tamboura.
Alternative Fox present a reissue of Laboratorio Della Quercia’s self-titled released, originally released in 1979. In the summer of 1978, an ambitious twelve-day experimental jazz project was undertaken at the ancient amphitheater, Tasso della Quercia, on the slopes of Rome’s Gianicolo Hill. The idea was to assemble the leading players from Italy’s avant-garde jazz scene, revolving around members of Grande Elenco Musicisti (or GEM), such as saxophonists Tommaso Vittorini, Eugenio Colombo, and Maurizio Giammarco, trumpeter Alberto Corvini and trombonist/composer Danilo Terenzi, together with visiting American players such as saxophonists Steve Lacy, Steve Potts, and Evan Parker, trombonist Roswell Rudd, pianist Frederick Rzewski, and drummer Noel McGhee, among others. Different group configurations were enacted each day and the final gala concert formed the basis of this super rare and highly playful double album, which captures the delightfully messy proceedings. In keeping with the openness of the Roman jazz scene of the day, the project sought to push the boundaries, aiming to break big-band traditions whilst still emphasizing the collective nature of the experience. Enrico Rava’s opening “Tromblues” emphasizes the disparate approaches of these trans-Atlantic teams and Terenzi’s “Dialogando” uses dual trombones to heighten musical discord; in mutated big-band mode, Giammarco’s thrillingly complex “Vortex Waltz”, and Vittorini’s “La Legge E Uguale Per Tutti” both speak to the limitless potential that the project was aiming for.
The finger-picking guitarist and blues enthusiast John Fahey enjoyed a long, influential and distinguished career. Born in Washington DC in 1939 and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, he launched his own Takoma label to issue self-produced work in the late 1950s and then delivered his master’s theses on the blues of Charlie Patton at UCLA. Then, while based in the radical town of Berkeley, California in the San Francisco Bay area, began issuing filed recordings of forgotten blues legends, such as Bukka White. With his own work, Fahey began borrowing from eastern elements such as Indonesian gamelan and Tibetan vocal chanting, reflecting his interest in esoteric eastern religion, as well as birdsong, animal calls, and other naturalistic elements. This beautiful 1973 performance, delivered in the sleepy town of Sausalito, California, comprises most of Fahey’s Fare Forward Voyagers LP (1973), as well as earlier material, including “Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Palace Of King Philip XIV Of Spain”, from his 1964 release, Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes.
1970’S ‘Thousands On A Raft’, Pete Brown & Piblokto!’s debut album for Harvest, clocks in at the hard-rock and experimental jazz edge of prog, as heard on the extended instrumental interludes of ‘Highland Song’ and ‘If They Could Only See Me Now’; in contrast, Brown’s poetic sensibilities drive esoteric numbers such as ‘Got A Letter From A Computer’ and the closing title track.
Japanese experimental group Les Rallizes Denudes are the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll enigma. Sometimes referred to as Hadaka no Rallizes or even as Hadaka no Rarizu, each appellation a variant of the name “Fucked Up and Naked”, which equates to being high on hard drugs, they are seen as noise-rock pioneers, yet sifting fact from fiction isn’t easy with their oddball tale. Emerging from the radical hippie communes of Kyoto during the late 1960s, the band was formed in November 1967 by university student Takashi Mizutani, taking the overamplified, distorted guitar of the Velvet Underground as a starting point. Early demo recordings apparently suffered from poor sound quality, leading the perfectionist Mizutani to retreat from the studio environment, meaning that most of the group’s output has appeared as live bootlegs, with the occasional studio demo surfacing as well. Performances were initially staged as part of avant-garde theatre, though the band’s propensity for super-loud noise soon put paid to such collaboration; the ever-changing membership saw Mizutani the only permanent force, despite his embroilment in the 1970 Red Army hijacking of a civilian Japan Airlines flight, enacted partly through bass player, Moriaki Wakabayashi, who defected to North Korea in its aftermath. Though perhaps not quite as notorious, fellow improvisational group, Taj Mahal Travellers, has a backstory of random international travels that is almost as intriguing as that of Les Rallizes; formed in 1969 by six experimental musicians and an electronic engineer, they embarked on a series of improvisational gigs across Japan, notably including an all-day marathon held at a Kanagawa beach, and made their way to Europe in 1971, where they crossed paths with Don Cherry and other like-minded practitioners. They later drove from Holland to the Pakistan border, acquiring santoors in Iran on the way to help broaden their already unpredictable repertoire. The OZ Days Live release is culled from the OZ Last Days festival held in the autumn of 1973, to benefit Tokyo’s OZ Rock Café, which had been closed following repeated drug busts. Here the Taj Mahal Travellers are suitably cosmic, their echoing jams featuring looped vocal chants, disjointed string instruments and sparse, off-kilter percussion; in contrast, the contributions from Les Rallizes are more standard examples of instrumental psychedelic rock, which veers more towards the acid rock end of the spectrum as the performance progresses.
Alternative Fox present a reissue of Joyce, originally released in 1968. The Brazilian singer-songwriter and guitarist Joyce Silveira Moreno was born and raised in the middle of Copacabana, a short beach stroll from the epicentre of the bossa nova universe. Her father was a Dane that had settled in Brazil, but she was raised by her mother and step- father in a typical Portuguese-Brazilian household. Since her older brother was friendly with leading lights of the bossa nova movement such as Roberto Menescal and Eumir Deodato, she was steeped in the form at an early age and witnessed its key evolution first-hand. At the age of 16 in 1964, she was taken to the studio by Menescal to contribute to the coveted debut album by the mythical group Sambacana, assembled to record the work of composer Pacífico Mascarenhas when the meagre budget would not allow the vocalists he preferred. Knowing that a full-time career in music was certainly not guaranteed, she began studying journalism in 1967, shortly before her controversial song “Me Disseram” reached the finals of Rio’s second International Song Competition. The following year, her self-titled debut album was released by Philips, produced by Armando Pittigliani, with orchestration by Dorival Caymmi and arrangements by Gaya; along with her own compositions, the album also featured songs by her rising-star friends, including Caetano Veloso and Marcos Valle.
New York Contemporary Five: Live at Koncertsal, Copenhagen, 17.10.1963. The short-lived quintet known as the New York Contemporary Five had a lasting impact on the free jazz movement. It was formed in 1962 with trumpeter Don Cherry, who had been working with free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman; tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp, who’d been working with Cecil Taylor, Gil Evans, and more recently, Bill Dixon; Danish alto saxophonist John Tchicai (whose father was Congolese), a former member of the quintet assembled by the poet and filmmaker Jorgen Leth, who moved to New York shortly before the Contemporary Five’s formation; acoustic bassist Don Moore, who had played with Shepp and Dixon; and drummer JC Moses, who had played with Clifford Jordan and trumpeter Kenny Dorham. This rare performance, given at Copenhagen’s Koncertsal on October 17, 1963, has epically-extended cuts of Don Cherry’s “Consequences” and Ornette Coleman’s “Emotions”, plus a peppy take of Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Mood”.
On this double album, the Albert Ayler Trio consisted of Ayler, bassist Torbjörn Hultcrantz and drummer Sune Spångberg; four dissonant songs from their live performance on 24 October 1962 would be issued on the Bird Notes label in Sweden as ‘Something Different!!!!!!’ and reissued overseas as the first edition of ‘The First Recording’; it included a barely-recognisable
rendition of showtune ‘I’ll Remember April,’ an off-kilter take of Sonny Rollins’ ‘The Stopper’ retitled ‘Rollins’ Tune,’ and a wobbly cut of Miles Davis’ ‘Tune Up,’ along with the original ‘Free.’ The exceedingly rare ‘Volume 2’ was also issued on Bird Notes -at least in test pressings with photos of Ayler glued to the cover- comprised of 3 extended meditations of discord, namely blown mutations of showtunes ‘Softly As In A Morning Sunrise’ and ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,’ along with a growling cut of Count Basie’s ‘Good Bait.’
One of the strangest and most enigmatic groups in the history of rock n’ roll, Les Rallizes Denudes, also known as Hadaka no Rallizes or Hadaka no Rarizu, were a Japanese experimental rock band that is often cited as a pioneering force of the noise rock movement. The story of the band is as strange and difficult as the music they made and although much of the tale is shrouded in mystery, everything apparently begins around Kyoto’s radical anti-establishment communes of the late 1960s, where androgynous frontman Takashi Mizutani formed the group in November 1967 while attending Kyoto University. Hard facts are in thin supply and the band’s name employs complex punning that essentially equates to “Fucked Up and Naked” in Japanese, a slang reference to being high on drugs. Inspired by the Velvet Underground and other groups employing prominent, overamplified guitar, the band’s music was typically based on repetitive rhythmic patterns bolstered by Mizutani’s heavily distorted lead guitar, though the poor sound quality of early demos apparently turned Mizutani away from studio recordings, rendering much of their output in the form of live bootlegs, supplanted by the occasional leaked studio demo. Early performances were given as accompaniment to avant-garde theater groups, though the group was soon deemed too loud to be a mere accompaniment, and membership fluctuated frequently, with Mizutani being the only constant, though he retreated from public view following the 1970 Red Army hijacking of Japan Airlines flight 351, with the assistance of original Rallizes bass player, Moriaki Wakabayashi, who subsequently fled to North Korea; the band continued to sporadically record and perform under various guises until 1997. The two versions of There’s No Heaven Like Hell, presented here, was recorded on April 1, 1975 at Rallizes House in Fussa, a small town to the west of Tokyo, joining Mizutani with keyboardist/guitarist Taisuke Morishita’s experimental group Be, originally known as Yellow. The first version takes the form of an epic slow drone, featuring Mizutani on acid guitar, backed only by Morishita’s pulsating synthesizer lines; the second version is in full marathon mode, an hour-long dirge that sees the spacey duo joined by drummer Shunichiro Shoda and a plodding bassist in the latter portion.