The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Information Page

compiled by Matt Endahl

(last updated: October 2nd, 2011)

Would you like to help out? Send any corrections or additional information my way.

history

The Jazz Composer's Guild was formed by trumpeter Bill Dixon in 1964 with the belief that musicians involved with "the new music" (i.e. free jazz, avant-garde, etc.) should take business into their own hands, without having to deal with unsympathetic record companies, club owners, etc. The Guild organized and promoted concerts presented by its members, which in May 1964 included Paul and Carla Bley, Michael Mantler, Cecil Taylor, Dixon, Archie Shepp, John Winter, Sun Ra, Burton Greene, Roswell Rudd, and John Tchicai. (source: Bley, "Stopping Time")

For a series of concerts in December 1964, Paul Bley suggested to Carla that she and Mike Mantler put together a big band consisting of the Guild members, in order to draw an audience. This was the beginning of the Jazz Composer's Guild Orchestra.

Tensions within the Guild itself were running very high by 1965. While philosophical clashes were definitely present (Dixon got infuriated when he learned that his longtime musical companion Archie Shepp had accepted a contract for Impulse! records), racial differences were certainly a factor as well, as Cecil Taylor states in A. B. Spellman's book "Black Music: Four Lives". There is also the rather dubious suggestion that Sun Ra did not approve of Carla Bley's presence in the group because of her gender (I can't remember what the source of this information is, I think I read it in Burton Greene's autobiography "Memoirs of a Musical 'Pesty Mystic'"). In any event, the Guild dissolved in mid-1965, but Ms. Bley (recently divorced from Paul) and Michael Mantler decided to try to keep the Orchestra together, so together they formed the Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association. (Mantler founded the New Music Distribution Service to get the music out to the public.)

The JCO recorded one album while the JCG still existed: the tapes of two concerts from December 1964 and April 1965 were sold to the small Dutch label Fontana, which also released a couple Paul Bley albums and a Mantler/Bley/Steve Lacy collaboration entitled "Jazz Realities". The rest of the albums with the JCO were released on JCOA Records, which was formed by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler a few years later.

While some of the albums listed on this page are readily available, most are currently unavailable except through second-hand sources like used record stores and eBay. Because of this, not only is the music they contain unreachable by many interested people, the information on the record jackets is also unreachable. Because of legal issues concerning the former, this website addresses the latter. By providing the album information here, I hope to assist researchers by saving them the trouble of tracking down these albums, some of which have proven to be very elusive.

I have also added information that I have deemed "obscure but relevant" from other non-album sources.

bibliography

There are several books which deal with certain aspects of the Jazz Composer's Guild and the Orchestra. Here are a couple off the top of my head:

Bley, Paul and David Lee. "Stopping Time: Paul Bley and the Transformation of Jazz." Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1999.
Braxton, Anthony. "The Tri-Axium Writings, vol. 1." Synthesis Music, 1985. pp. 400-402
Green, Narada Burton. "Memoirs of a Musical 'Pesty Mystic' or, from the Ashcan to the Ashram and Back Again." Redwood, NY: Cadence Jazz Books, 2001.
Spellman, A. B. "Black Music: Four Lives [in the Bebop Business]." New York: Limelight Editions, 1966.
Young, Ben. "Dixonia: a Bio-Discography of Bill Dixon". Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

layout

I have included as much information as is practical at this time, gathered from album jackets, record reviews, internet pages, etc. I have tried to cite my sources where necessary. Many images were scanned myself, some were scanned by friends and some were found using Google Image Search.

I have removed my own reviews from this site in order to present a less biased view of the information listed here. My opinions are always presented as such, and only in cases where they are believed to be logical extrapolations based on known facts.

I'm also working on a new, hopefully cleaner table layout, so the page is once again under construction.

discography

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Communication 1965 Fontana 661 011 ZY
Michael Mantler The Jazz Composer's Orchestra 1968 JCOA 1001/2
Carla Bley & Paul Haines Escalator Over the Hill 1972 JCOA 1003/4/5
Don Cherry Relativity Suite 1973 JCOA 1006
Roswell Rudd Numatik Swing Band 1973 JCOA 1007
Clifford Thornton Gardens of Harlem 1974 JCOA 1008
Grachan Moncur III Echoes of Prayer 1974 JCOA 1009
Leroy Jenkins For Players Only 1975 JCOA 1010

rehearsals/live performances

The Jazz Composer's Guild Orchestra December 29th, 1964
The Jazz Composer's Guild Orchestra April 10th, 1965
The Jazz Composer's Guild Orchestra April 9th-11th, 1965
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Newport
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra MOMA
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra October 29th, 1965
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra April 27th, 1969 ("The Long Concerts")
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra March 29th, 1971
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra December 1st, 1972

related recordings

Bill Dixon Orchestra Intents and Purposes 1967 RCA LSP-3844 (stereo)
Gary Burton A Genuine Tong Funeral 1967 RCA LSP-3988 (stereo)
Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra 1969 Impulse! AS 9183
Carla Bley Tropic Appetites 1973 Watt 1
Michael Mantler & Carla Bley 13 & 3/4 1975 Watt 3

related media

Bill Smith/Ron Mann Imagine the Sound 1981

discography

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
Communication

Fontana 661 (881?) 011 ZY

1. Roast 11:53
2. Communications #4 [Day] 2:32
3. Communications #5 24:57

1 composed by Carla Bley
2 and 3 composed by Michael Mantler

Information

Roast:

Michael Mantler trumpet
Roswell Rudd trombone
Willie Ruff french horn
Steve Lacy soprano sax (soloist)
John Tchicai alto sax
Jimmy Lyons alto sax
Archie Shepp tenor sax (soloist)
Fred Pirtle baritone sax
Paul Bley piano
Eddie Gomez bass
Milford Graves drums (soloist)

Recorded live at Judson Hall, New York City on December 29, 1964
Recorded by Guy Heitman

Day and Communication #5:

Michael Mantler trumpet (soloist)
Roy Codrington trumpet (soloist)
Roswell Rudd trombone
Steve Lacy soprano sax
Robin Kenyatta alto sax
Jimmy Lyons alto sax
Ken McIntyre alto sax
Bob Carducci tenor sax (soloist)
Fred Pirtle baritone sax
Paul Bley piano
Kent Carter bass
Steve Swallow bass
Barry Altschul drums

Recorded live at the Contemporary Center, New York City on April 10, 1965
Recorded by Paul Haines

Cover design: Marte Röling, Amsterdam

Related Links

- Liner Notes. Borrowed for preservation from Steve Lacy's website.


Michael Mantler
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra

JCOA 1001/2

1. Communications #8 14:03
2. Communications #9 8:14
3. Communications #10 13:42
4. Preview 3:29
5. Communications #11 [part one] 15:32
6. Communications #11 [part two] 1814

All composed by Michael Mantler.

Information

Communications #8

Don Cherry, cornet (soloist)
Gato Barbieri, tenor saxophone (soloist)

Steve Lacy, soprano saxophone
Al Gibbons, soprano saxophone
Gene Hull, alto saxophone
Bob Donovan, alto saxophone
Lew Tabackin, tenor saxophone
George Barrow, tenor saxophone
Charles Davis, baritone saxophone

Lloyd Michels, flügelhorn
Randy Brecker, flügelhorn
Bob Northern, french horn
Julius Watkins, french horn
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Jack Jeffers, bass trombone
Howard Johnson, tuba

Carla Bley, piano
Kent Carter, bass
Ron Carter, bass
Richard Davis, bass
Charlie Haden, bass
Reggie Workman, bass
Andrew Cyrille, drums

Recorded January 24, 1968

Communications #9, #10, and Preview

Larry Coryell, guitar (soloist on #9)
Roswell Rudd, trombone (soloist on #10)
Pharaoh Sanders, tenor saxophone (soloist on Preview)

Al Gibbons, soprano saxophone
Steve Marcus, soprano saxophone
Frank Wess, alto saxophone
Bob Donovan, alto saxophone
Lew Tabackin, tenor saxophone
George Barrow, tenor saxophone
Charles Davis, baritone saxophone

Lloyd Michels, flügelhorn
Stephen Fortado, flügelhorn
Bob Northern, french horn
Julius Watkins, french horn
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Jack Jeffers, bass trombone
Howard Johnson, tuba

Carla Bley, piano
Ron Carter, bass
Eddie Gomez, bass
Charlie Haden, bass
Steve Swallow, bass
Reggie Workman, bass
Beaver Harris, drums

Recorded on May 8, 1968

Communications #11

Cecil Taylor, piano (soloist)

Al Gibbons, soprano saxophone
Steve Marcus, soprano saxophone
Bob Donovan, alto saxophone
Jimmy Lyons, alto saxophone
Lew Tabackin, tenor saxophone
Gato Barbieri, tenor saxophone
Charles Davis, baritone saxophone

Lloyd Michels, flügelhorn
Stephen Fortado, flügelhorn
Bob Northern, french horn
Julius Watkins, french horn
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Jack Jeffers, bass trombone
Howard Johnson, tuba

Bob Cunningham, bass
Charlie Haden, bass
Reggie Johnson, bass
Alan Silva, bass
Reggie Workman, bass
Andrew Cyrille, drums


Recorded June 20 & 21, 1968

All music composed and conducted by Michael Mantler
Publisher: Watt Works, Inc. (BMI)

Recording Engineer: Paul Goodman
Recorded on 3M 8-track tape recorders in RCA Victor's Studio B, New York City.
The microphones used were of the following types: Neuman U-67, Neuman U-56, Sennheiser 421, Shure 546, Electro-Voice RE-15.

This recording was made possible by The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association, Inc. in cooperation with the Farfield Foundation, Inc. and with the kind help of several private individuals.

Produced and coordinated by Michael Mantler.

Cover design and lay-out: Paul McDonough.

[the following descriptions are Mantler's, and are accompanied in the booklet by a picture of one page of the score]

Communications #8

January-August 1967. For a team of players. Loosely strung. Often rising. Much singing. Release. A long descent.

Communications #9

January-August 1967. About the weaving of clusters. The natural electric orchestra. The amplifier.

Communications #10

June 1966; February-August 1967. Once a commission for low strings by a friend. Expansion. The exquisite low horn.

Preview

April 1968. The March. The Flight. From a work in progress.

Communications #11

May-September 1967. From the association with one man. The orchestration of his piano.

Booklet also includes:

• A reduction of the first page of scores respective to their titles
• A brief note from Michael Mantler, followed by a quote from "How It Is" by Samuel Beckett
• "The Musician", a lengthy abstract poem by Cecil Taylor
• "The Listener", a tirade from Paul Haines
• Many black & white photos by Tod Papageorge of the sessions
• "Backgrounds", an essay by Timothy Marquand about the state of art in America.

Related Links

JCOA Scores. Download (for free) scans of Michael Mantler's original scores as PDF files and follow along while you listen!

All Music Guide Review. A review by Brian Olewnick.

Mantler Spills the Beans. A short but informative interview from the early 1970's with some information about the JCO album. Mirror site: here.


Carla Bley & Paul Haines
Escalator Over the Hill

JCOA 1003/5

(disc one)

1. Hotel Overture (13:11)
2. This is Here... (5:56)

Cecil Clark's Old Hotel

3. Like Animals [In the Courtyard] (1:21)
4. Escalator Over the Hill [In the Lobby] (4:52)
5. Stay Awake (1:31)
6. Ginger and David [In the Room] (1:39)
7. Song to Anything that Moves (2:20)
8. EOTH Theme (0:35)

Off Premises

9. Businessmen [In the Music Hall] (5:38)
10. Ginger and David Theme (0:57)
11. Why [In the Street] (2:19)
12. It's Not What you Do (0:15)

Cecil Clark's

13. Detective Writer Daughter [In the Courtyard] (3:16)
14. Doctor Why [In the Hallway of Her Room] (1:28)
15. Slow Dance (Transductory Music) (1:50)
16. Smalltown Agonist [In Bed] (5:24)

(disc two)

In the Meadow or in Hotels

17. End of Head (0:38)
18. Over Her Head [In Rain] (2:38)
19. Little Pony Soldier (4:36)

In Flux

20. Oh Say Can You Do? (1:08)
21. Holiday in Risk (3:09)
22. Holiday in Risk Theme (0:47)
23. A.I.R. (All India Radio) (3:55)
24. Rawalpindi Blues (12:41)
25. End of Rawalpindi (9:35)

Over the Hill

26. End of Animals (1:26)
27. ...And It's Again (effectively approx. 9:00)

All words written by Paul Haines.
All music composed by Carla Bley.

Information

[This is a gross over-simplification of the exact personnel from track to track. To conserve space, I have included everyone who plays with a certain ensemble at any point in the work into one list.]

Collective Members of Orchestra & Hotel Lobby Band

Carla Bley, conductor

Michael Mantler, trumpet
Enrico Rava, trumpet
Bob Carlisle, french horn
Sharon Freeman, french horn
Roswell Rudd, trombone (soloist)
Sam Burtis, trombone
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Jack Jeffers, bass trombone
John Buckingham, tuba

Jimmy Lyons, alto sax
Dewey Redman, alto sax (once)
Bill Morimando, alto sax (occasionally)
Perry Robinson, clarinet (soloist)
Gato Barbieri, tenor sax (soloist)
Chris Woods, baritone sax

Carla Bley, piano
Charlie Haden, bass (soloist)
Paul Motian, drums
Karl Berger, vibes (once)
Bill Morimando, orchestra bells, celeste
Roger Dawson, conga

Jack's Traveling Band

John McLaughlin, electric guitar
Carla Bley, organ
Jack Bruce, electric bass
Paul Motian, drums

Original Amateur Hotel Band

Michael Snow, trumpet
Michael Mantler, valve trombone
Howard Johnson, tuba
Perry Robinson, clarinet
Peggy Imig, tenor sax
Nancy Newton, viola

Richard Youngstein, bass
Carla Bley, piano
Paul Motian, drums

Desert Band

Don Cherry, trumpet
Leroy Jenkins, violin
Calo Scott, cello
Ron McClure, acoustic bass
Sam Brown, acoustic guitar
Sauren Baronian, dumbec
Carla Bley, organ
Paul Motian, percussion

Phantom Music

Michael Mantler, ring modulated piano, prepared piano
Carla Bley, organs
Don Preston, Moog synthesizer

Speakers

Jack Bruce, Jack, Jack II, Parrot
Linda Ronstadt, Ginger
Carl Bley, Leader, Mutant, Various
Paul Jones, David
Don Preston, Doctor, Lion
Viva, Viva
Tod Papageorge, Cecil Clark
Bill Leonard, Calliope Bill
Don Cherry, Sand Shepherd
Jeanne Lee, Ginger II
Charlie Haden, His Friends
Steve Ferguson, His Friends
Bob Stewart, Roomer
Sheila Jordan, Used Woman
Rosalind Hupp, Operasinger
Jane Blackstone, Nurse
Howard Johnson, Yodeling Ventriloquist
Roswell Rudd, Loudspeaker
Karen Mantler, Ancient Roomer
Timothy Marquand, Therapist
Perry Robinson, Dad

Multiple Public Members, Hotelpeople, Men, Women, and other Extras

Many of the above, also:
Jonathan Cott
Steve Gebhardt
Tyrus Gerlach
Eileen Hale
Pat Stewart
Phyllis Schneider

Words: Paul Haines
Adaptation and Music: Carla Bley
Production and Coordination: Michael Mantler

Recording

"Phantom Music" (recurring throughout the work)
November 1968, RCA Recording Studios, New York
Engineer: Paul Goodman

November 1970-June 1971, RCA Recording Studios, New York
Engineers: Ray Hall, Jim Crotty, Pat Martin, Dick Baxter, Gus Mossler, Tom Brown

March 1971, Empirical Sound, at the Cinematheque, New York (Courtesy Jonas Mekas, Richard Foreman)
Engineer: Dave Jones

June 1971, Butterfly Mobile Sound Van, at the Public Theater, New York (Courtesy Joseph Papp, Bernard Gersten)
Engineers: Karl Sjodahl, Bob Fries, Nelson Weber, Wes Wickemeyer

Editing: Carla Bley
Mixing: Carla Bley, Michael Mantler, Karl Sjodahl, Ray Hall
Publisher: Copyrights © 1971 by Alrac Music (BMI)
Photography: Garry Winogrand, Tod Papageorge, Paul McDonough
Lay-Out: Paul McDonough

Occasional piano by Baldwin

This recording was made possible by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association, Inc. with the kind support of several private individuals, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Cultural Council Foundation.

Released by JCOA Records, the record label of the Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association, Inc. a non-profit organization.

"Anything not told, wasn't yet known."

-Carla Bley

Booklet also includes:

• "Opera", a photo collage by Paul Haines (subtitled: "Uttar-Pradash, India 1970")
• A long list of many characters, icons, musicians, contributors to the album
• A listing of every piece, accompanied by names of musical groups and speakers that appear on a given track
• The libretto by Paul Haines, including side notes which are not spoken, but appear alongside the libretto.
• A photograph of a calliope, presumably the one used in the recordings
• Two photos of Paul Haines
• Detailed listings of who does what on every track, accompanied by dozens of additional black & white session photographs not included here.

Related Links

Accomplishing Escalator Over the Hill by Carla Bley. Written in 1972 shortly after the release of Escalator. Absolutely essential. Mirror: here.

Escalator Over the Hill. Information on ordering the score/parts directly from Carla Bley.

The Complete Libretto. The legendary libretto by Paul Haines. Presented here for educational use only.

Escalator: the Film. The film made of the recording sessions. Here's information on the film and how to order it.

Paul Haines: Secret Carnival Workers. This is an incredibly important and needed anthology (of sorts) about Mr. Haines' life and work.

Other Notes

In the last ten years, there have been several staged performances of Escalator, primarily in Europe, featuring an all-new cast and orchestra. At least one live recording of this exists and circulates.


Don Cherry
Relativity Suite

JCOA 1006

1. Tantra 8:00
2. Mali Doussn'gouni 5:40
3. Desireless 1:22
4. The Queen of Tung-Ting Lake 4:30
5. Trans-Love Airways 6:50
6. Infinite Gentleness 3:22
7. March of the Hobbits 3:38

All composed by Don Cherry.

Information

Don Cherry, conductor, trumpet, conch, voice, percussion (soloist on Mali Doussn'gouni, The Queen of Tung-Ting Lake, and Trans-Love Airways)
Charles Brackeen, soprano and alto saxophone, voice
Carlos Ward, alto saxophone, voice (soloist on Desireless)
Frank Lowe, tenor saxophone, voice (soloist on Tantra)
Dewey Redman, tenor saxophone, voice

Sharon Freeman, french horn
Brian Trentham, trombone
Jack Jeffers, tuba

Leroy Jenkins, violin
Joan Kalisch, viola
Nancy Newton, viola
Pat Dixon, cello
Jane Robertson, cello

Charlie Haden, bass (soloist on Trans-Love Airways)
Carla Bley, piano (soloist on Infinite Gentleness)
Ed Blackwell, drums (soloist on March of the Hobbits)
Paul Motian, percussion
Moki Cherry, tambura (on Trans-Love Airways)
Selene Fung, ching (soloist on The Queen of Tung-Ting Lake)

Produced by Don Cherry and the Jazz Composer's Orchestra

Relativity Suite was commissioned from Don Cherry by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra in 1970.

Publisher: Eternal River Music (BMI)

Recorded on February 14th, 1973, Blue Rock Studio, New York City

Engineer: Eddie Korvin

Cover: Quilt designed and handmade by Moki Cherry, photographed by Gregory Reeve

Photograph of Don Cherry and his son Eagle Eye by Jonathan Sa'ada.

Note:

Another (probably live) recording of this is said to exist in the Library of Congress, recorded December 1, 1972.


Roswell Rudd
Numatik Swing Band

JCOA 1007

1. Vent 4:50
2. Breathahoward 2:52
3. Circulation 10:15
4. Lullaby for Greg 11:10
5. Aerosphere 14:15

All music composed by Roswell Rudd.
Lyrics on Lullaby for Greg written by Rudd, Galbraith & Jordan.

Information

Roswell Rudd, french horn, trombone (soloist on Circulation)
Enrico Rava, trumpet (soloist on Aerosphere)
Mike Lawrence, trumpet
Charles Sullivan, trumpet
Michael Krasnov, trumpet

Art Baron, trombone
Gary Brocks, trombone
Janet Donaruma, french horn
Sharon Freeman, french horn
Jeffrey Schlegel, french horn
Bob Stewart, tuba
Howard Johnson, tuba (soloist on Breathahoward)

Mike Bresler, piccolo, flute, soprano saxophone
Dewey Redman, clarinet, tenor saxophone (soloist on Lullaby for Greg)
Martin Alter, flute, oboe, alto saxophone
Perry Robinson, clarinet
Carlos Ward, flute, alto saxophone
Charles Davis, soprano and baritone saxophones (soloist on Aerosphere)

Sheila Jordon, vocals (soloist on Lullaby for Greg)
Charlie Haden, bass
Sirone, bass
Hod O'Brien, piano
Beaver Harris, drums (soloist on Vent)
Sue Evans, percussion
Lou Grassi, drums (on Lullaby for Greg)
Dan Johnson, percussion (on Aerosphere)

Produced by Roswell Rudd and the Jazz Composer's Orchestra

Numatik Swing Band was commissioned from Roswell Rudd by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra.

Publisher: Roswell Music (BMI)

Vent, Breathahoward, Circulation, and Aerosphere were composed January through March, 1971, and first presented by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra during a Workshop at the New York Public Theater on March 22, 1971.

Lullaby for Greg was composed in June, 1973. Lyrics by Rudd, Galbraith & Jordan.

Numatik Swing Band was presented by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra in its entirety during two Workshop Concerts at New York University's Loeb Student Center on July 5 & 6, 1973.

Recorded on July 6, 1973 by the Butterfly Mobile Sound Van

Recording Engineer: Kurt Munkacsi, assisted by Eddie Korvin and Vaughn Binzer

Mixed at Blue Rock Studio, New York City

Mixing Engineer: Eddie Korvin

Album Design, art work and photograph: Wai Yip


Clifford Thornton
The Gardens of Harlem

JCOA 1008

1. Ogún Bára 5:46
2. O Desayo 8:02
3. Agbadzá 9:42
4. Changó Obarí 4:33
5. Aïn Salah 8:16
6. Gospel Ballade 4:44
7. Sweet Oranges 1:08
8. Blues City 8:57

All composed by Clifford Thornton.

Information

Clifford Thornton, cornet, valve trombone, shenai, cabasa, bell (soloist on O Desayo, Agbadzá, and Aïn Salah)

Kobena Adzenyah, nnawuronta, apentima, oprenten, ntrowa, conga, sogo, atsimevu
Jerry Gonzales, kónkolo bata, kaganu, quinto, tumba, bell, palos
Milton Cardona, itótele bata, tumba
Gene Golden, iyá bata, tumba, palos
Vincent Jorge, tumba, axatse, conga
Asante Darkwa, gankogui, nnaronta, bell
Laxmi G. Tewari, axatse, kidi, ntrowa
Art Lewis, trap set
Andy Gonzales, bass

Carla Bley, piano (soloist on Gospel Ballade)

Bob Stewart, tuba

Charles Stevens, trombone
Janice Robinson, trombone (soloist on Ogún Bára)

Charles Stevens, french horn (soloist on Gospel Ballade)
Gregory Williams, french horn

George Barrow, baritone saxophone, flute (soloist on Blues City)
Pat Patrick, tenor and soprano saxophones
Roland Alexander, tenor saxophone (soloist on O Desayo)
Carlos Ward, alto saxophone, flute
Dewey Redman, alto and tenor saxophones (soloist on Blues City)

Clifford Thornton, cornet
Michael Ridley, trumpet (soloist on Agbadzá)
Marvin Peterson, trumpet (soloist on Agbadzá)
Leo Smith, trumpet (soloist on Changó Obarí)
Ted Daniel, trumpet, flügelhorn (soloist on Blues City)

Music © 1972, Third World Music, BMI.
Produced by Clifford Thornton and the Jazz Composer's Orchestra
Associate Producer: Fred Seibert
Recorded April 4, 1974: Blue Rock Studio, NYC.
Recording and Mix Engineer: Eddie Korvin
Mastering: Harry N. Fein, CBS.

 

Front cover painting: mural done by elementary school students at Public School 125 on a fence at 121st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, Harlem, USA.
Photographs: Christine Jakobs (2,3), Rufus Nickens (1)
Back cover print: Momodou Ceesay
Cover design: Susan Rivoir


Grachan Moncur III
Echoes of Prayer

JCOA 1009

Band 1 (12:09)

1. Prologue
2. Reverend King's Wings I
3. Medgar's Menace I
4. Drum Transition
5. Garvey's Ghost (Space Station)

Band 2 (8:30)

1. Angela's Angel I
2. Drum Transition

Band 3 (20:02)

1. Right On I
2. Angela's Angel II
3. Right On II
4. Reverend King's Wings II
5. Medgar's Menace II
6. Drum Transition
7. African Percussion Ensemble

Band 4 (3:42)

1. Right On III
2. Angela's Angel III (Jamboree)
3. Drum Transition
4. Amen Cadence
5. Epilogue: Excuse Me, Mr. Justice

All composed by Grachan Moncur III.

Information

Grachan Moncur III, conductor, trombone, voice (soloist on Prologue, Garvey's Ghost, and Angela's Angel I)

Pat Patrick, flutes (soloist on Angela's Angel I)
Perry Robinson, clarinet (soloist on Medgar's Menace II)
Carlos Ward, alto saxophone, flute (soloist on Medgar's Menace I)

Leroy Jenkins, violin (soloist on Medgar's Menace II)
Ngoma, violin

Hannibal (Marvin Peterson), trumpet (soloist on Angela's Angel II)
Stafford Osborne, trumpet (soloist on Medgar's Menace I)
Janice Robinson, trombone
Jack Jeffers, bass trombone (soloist on Angela's Angel III)

Mark Elf, guitar (soloist on Angela's Angel III)
Carla Bley, piano
Cecil McBee, bass (soloist on Garvey's Ghost)
Charlie Haden, bass (soloist on Garvey's Ghost)
Beaver Harris, drums

Tanawa Dance Ensemble: (soloists on African Percussion Ensemble)

Titos Sompa, Coster Massamba, Malonga Quasquelourd, Jakuba Abiona, Frederick Simpson: congas, talking drum, torpedo, quica, cowbell, shekere maracas, hair drum.

On Reverend King's Wings I, add:

Keith Marks, flute

On Garvey's Ghost, add:

Toni Marcus, viola

Echoes of Prayer was commissioned from Grachan Moncur III by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra in 1972 and was presented at a Workshop Concert at New York University's Loeb Student Center on April 10, 1974.

Recorded on April 11, 1974 at Blue Rock Studio, New York City
Recording and Mixing Engineer: Eddie Korvin
Mastering: Harry N. Fein
Cover Photograph by Myles Walker
Photograph of Grachan Moncur III by Al Henderson.
Layout: Paul McDonough

Special Thanks:
The Space Station Community Thing, Harlem Creative Black Musicians' Workshop, Neward, N.J. Kenneth Bichel and Mary Jane Geiger

Produced by Grachan Moncur III, Timothy Marquand and the Jazz Composer's Orchestra.


Leroy Jenkins
For Players Only

Special thanks to A. Senegal for providing the high-res cover scan!

JCOA 1010

1. For Players Only [part one] (15:45)
2. For Players Only [part two] (20:35)

Composed by Leroy Jenkins.

Information

Leroy Jenkins, composer, conductor, violin (soloist 18 in conclusion of Part 2)
Romulus Fransceschini, synthesizer (soloist 14 in conclusion of Part 2)

Anthony Braxton, contrabass clarinet (soloist 13 in conclusion of Part 2)
Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, tenor saxophone (soloist 7 in conclusion of Part 2)
Dewey Redman, clarinet, musette, banshee horn (soloist 3 in conclusion of Part 2)
Becky Friend, flute, piccolo (soloist 10 in conclusion of Part 2)
Charles Brackeen, soprano saxophone (soloist 15 in conclusion of Part 2)

Sharon Freeman, french horn (soloist 5 in conclusion of Part 2)
Bill Davis, tuba (soloist 11 in conclusion of Part 2)
Leo Smith, trumpet (soloist 1 in conclusion of Part 2)
Joseph Bowie, trombone (soloist 8 in conclusion of Part 2)

David Holland, bass (soloist 16 in conclusion of Part 2)
Jerome Cooper, drums, percussion, piano (soloist 12 in conclusion of Part 2)
Charles Shaw, drums, percussion (soloist 2 in conclusion of Part 2)
Roger Blank, drums, percussion (soloist 9 in conclusion of Part 2)

James Emery, guitar (soloist 6 in conclusion of Part 2)
Diedre Murray, cello (soloist 17 in conclusion of Part 2)
Sirone, bass (soloist 4 in conclusion of Part 2)

Produced by Leroy Jenkins and the Jazz Composer's Orchestra

For Players Only was commissioned from Leroy Jenkins by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra in 1974. It was first presented by the Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association, Inc. and WKCR-FM Radio during four Workshop Concerts at Columbia University's Wollman Auditorium from January 28 through January 31, 1975.

Publisher: RE: Publishing (BMI)

Recorded on January 30, 1975
Recording Engineer: Tony May, Generation Sound
Remote sound equipment supplied by Fedco Audio Labs
Assistance: Fred Ehrhardt and crew
Mixed at the Grog Kill Studio
Mixing Engineer: Michael Mantler
Mastering: Harry N. Fein, CBS

Cover photograph: Matthew Klein
Album Design: Paul McDonough


rehearsals/live performances

The events listed below are known to have taken place, and in many cases there are multiple comfirming sources. Events that are anecdotal or hearsay in nature, since they are often without any relevant information (exact dates, personnel, songs performed/rehearsed, etc.), have been omitted for the time being. (There aren't really that many anyway.)

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
December 29th, 1964
Judson Hall
New York City, NY

1. Communications #3 (Michael Mantler)
2. Roast (Carla Bley)

Personnel

Michael Mantler, trumpet, conductor

Steve Lacy, soprano saxophone
Jimmy Lyons, alto saxophone
John Tchicai, alto saxophone
Archie Shepp, tenor saxophone
Fred Pirtle, baritone saxophone
Willie Ruff, french horn
Roswell Rudd, trombone
Paul Bley, piano
Eddie Gomez, bass
Milford Graves, drums

Recording?

This take of "Roast" was used on the Fontana album Communication so a recording at least part of this show must have existed at one point. Whether or not it still exists is anyone's guess.

Source(s)

• Michael Mantler - composer, musician
http://www.mantlermusic.com/Performances/performances.htm


The Jazz Composers Guild Orchestra
April 10th, 1965
Contemporary Center
New York City, NY

1. Day [Communications #4] (Michael Mantler) 2:24
2. Communications #5 (Michael Mantler) 25:07
3. Ida Lupino - Oni Puladi (Carla Bley)
4. Radio (Carla Bley)
5. Loose Latin (Carla Bley)
6. prob. The Lonely People (Bill Dixon)
7. unknown title (Burton Greene)

Recording?

Probably. These takes of Communications #4 and #5 were used on the Fontana album Communication so a recording at least part of this show must have existed at one point.

Source(s)

• Bley, Carla. "Communications" liner notes.

Ström, Jan. "Jimmy Lyons Sessionography: a listing of records and tapes 1961-1985." Gusum, Sweden: Ayler Records, 2000.


The Jazz Composers Guild Orchestra
April 9th-11th, 1965
Contemporary Center
New York City, NY

1. The Lonely People (Bill Dixon) [reh.] 44:47

Personnel

Bill Dixon, conductor, arranger

Mike Mantler, trumpet
Roswell Rudd, trombone
Perry Robinson, clarinet
Steve Lacy, soprano sax
Ed Curran, alto sax
Robin Kenyatta, alto sax
Jimmy Lyons, alto sax
Ken McIntyre, alto sax, bass clarinet
Bob Carducci, tenor sax
Fred Pirtle, baritone sax
Kent Carter, bass
Steve Swallow, bass
Barry Altschul, drums

Recording?

Yes.

Source(s)

• Young, Ben. "Dixonia: a Bio-Discography of Bill Dixon". Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Notes:

• This Friday-through-Sunday (10:00pm) series presented works-in-progress by Dixon and other Guild composers. The first two days' "workshop performances" (i.e., open rehearsals) led up to a concert on Sunday. Dixon's rehearsal recording comes from Saturday night, on which [Carla] Bley read through her piece first, and Dixon next, concluding near 2:00am Sunday.

The personnel listed matches that of the rehearsal recording except that Kenyatta - definitely present at the Sunday performance - was apparently absent for the Saturday rehearsal.

-Dixonia, p. 81

• Numerous sources (Bley, Mantler, Ström and others) list the date of the concert as Saturday April 10th, 1965, including the jacket of the Communications album, which included two songs performed at the concert in question here. However, Young states above that the performance actually took place on Sunday the 11th. The only way all sources can be correct is if the takes used for the recording were from rehearsals, which is certainly plausible.


The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
October 29th, 1965
NDR Jazz Workshop
Hamburg, Germany

1. Touching (Annette Peacock) 5:36
2. Both (Annette Peacock) 5:28
3. Isis (Carla Bley) 7:02
4. Cartoon (Annette Peacock) 8:52
5. Batterie [Walking Batterie Woman] (Carla Bley) 3:40
6. Communications #7 (Michael Mantler) 6:27
7. Slow Dance (Carla Bley) 7:19
8. Closer (Carla Bley) 7:53
9. Doctor (Carla Bley) 7:56
10. Floater (Carla Bley) 7:52
11. Communications #6 (Michael Mantler) 11:40

Personnel

Carla Bley, conductor, piano* (?)
Paul Bley, piano
Kent Carter, bass
Barry Altschul, drums
Michael Mantler, trumpet
Prince Lasha, flute, poss. alto sax, clarinet, and bass clarinet
Steve Lacy, soprano sax
Hans Koller, tenor sax
Ronnie Ross, baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
Attilla Zoller, guitar

* Carla is listed as a pianist in some versions of the circulating tape. However, I can find no sonic evidence that Ms. Bley plays piano on this recording. It is possible that she and Paul trade the piano bench, but this seems to make little sense.

Recording?

Yes. There are several versions, but all seem to be from the same source.

Source(s)

• Sharing the Groove.org (accessed in 2004)
[The information here was provided by a text file included by the user who posted the torrent file to the forum. The forum has since gone offline.]

• The live tape list of Alan Lankin

http://jazzmatazz.home.att.net/liveinfo/Carla_Bley_JCOA-Hamburg.txt

• Here's the info file for a recently seeded version of this show.

• Also, this webpage is a database of all the NDR Jazz Workshops.

Web archive entry dated March 3rd, 2006.


The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
April 27th, 1969
"The Long Concerts"
Electric Circus
New York City, NY

1. Communications #6
2. Communications #11
3. Communications #12

Probably more that weren't listed.

All composed by Michael Mantler.

Personnel

Michael Mantler, conductor
Gato Barbieri, tenor saxophone
Howard Johnson, tuba
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Julius Watkins, french horn
Bob Northern, french horn
Carla Bley, piano
Charlie Haden, bass
Jimmy Garrison, bass
Bob Cunningham, bass
Ron Carter, bass
Andrew Cyrille, drums

and probably others.

Don Cherry, bamboo flute, trumpet (soloist on 1)
Cecil Taylor, piano (soloist on 2)
Pharaoh Sanders, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone (soloist on 3)

Recording?

Probably not.

Sources:

• Michael Mantler - composer, musician
http://www.mantlermusic.com/Performances/performances.htm

• cecil taylor online sessionography 1969
http://www.webmutations.com/ceciltaylor/1969.html

• down beat magazine
July 24th, 1969 issue
Concert review by Don Heckman

• Village Voice magazine
April 24th, 1969
Concert review by Robert Christgau

Notes:

• Christgau's review appeared in an April 24th issue of Village Voice, in response to an additional concert which took place on Sunday, April 20th, 1969. I will add an entry for it soon.


The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
March 29th, 1971
Public Theater
New York City, NY

1. Untitled Orchestra Piece (Bill Dixon) 28:30

Personnel

Bill Dixon, conductor

Eugene Citronbaum, trumpet
Lloyd Michaels, trumpet
Enrico Rava, trumpet
Charles Sullivan, trumpet
Sam Burtis, trombone
Roswell Rudd, trombone
John Buckingham, tuba
Toby Hanks, tuba
Bill Stanley, tuba
Richard Clay, tenor sax
Stephen Horenstein, tenor sax
Lee Konitz, tenor sax
Pat Patrick, tenor sax
Dewey Redman, tenor sax
Karlhanns (Karl) Berger, vibes
Warren Chiasson, vibes
Beaver Harris, drums
Laurence Cook, drums

Recording?

Yes.

Source(s)

• Young, Ben. "Dixonia: a Bio-Discography of Bill Dixon". Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Notes:

• Dixon was invited to lead a Workshop of the JCOA - one of several held at weekly intervals in the spring of 1971. There were no rehearsals prior to the day of performance. Dixon: "I went in, gave them the music, and then realized they wouldn't be able to do the thing in the next 25 years. They were there for a gig. So I made a simple announcement: 'We're going to have an open rehearsal' "; The concert was therefore presented as a work-in-progress.

-Dixonia, p. 158

• Young notes that the piece is similar to "Day One", a collaboration between Dixon and choreographer/dancer Judith Dunn. He also notes that the saxophone parts resemble those of a prior Dixon composition entitled "Anemone".


The Jazz Composer's Orchestra
December 1st, 1972
Unknown Venue

1. Relativity Suite (Don Cherry)


related albums (under construction)

Bill Dixon Orchestra
Intents and Purposes

RCA/Victor LMP/LSP-3844

1. Metamorphosis 1962-1966 (13:28)
2. Nightfall Pieces I (3:59)
3. Voices (12:27)
4. Nightfall Pieces II (2:31)

All composed by Bill Dixon.

Information

On track 1:

Bill Dixon, trumpet, flügelhorn
Jimmy Cheatham, bass trombone
Robin Kenyatta, alto saxophone (first soloist)
Byard Lancaster, alto saxophone (second soloist), bass clarinet
George Marge, english horn
Catherine Norris, cello
Jimmy Garrison, bass
Reggie Johnson, bass
Robert Frank Pozar, drums
Marc Levin, percussion

On tracks 2 and 4:

Bill Dixon, trumpet, flügelhorn
George Marge, flute

On track 3:

Bill Dixon, trumpet, flügelhorn
Byard Lancaster, bass clarinet
Catherine Norris, cello
Jimmy Garrison, bass
Robert Frank Pozar, drums

Track 1 recorded on October 10th, 1966
Track 3 recorded on January 17th, 1967
Tracks 2 and 4 recorded on February 21st, 1967

Recorded in RCA Victor's Studio B, New York City.
Engineer: Don Miller
Produced by Brad McCuen
Cover photo by David B. Hechet.

©1967 RCA New York City, NY

[If you are looking for a copy, see if your local library is a part of the Interlibrary Loan system and request it; that's how I first heard this album.]


Gary Burton Quartet with Orchestra
A Genuine Tong Funeral

RCA/Victor LMP/LSP 3988

1. The Opening / Interlude: Shovels / The Survivors / Grave Train (6:38)
2. Death Rolls (1:34)
3. Morning [part one] (1:42)
4. Interlude: Lament / Intermission Music (4:28)
5. Silent Spring (8:00)
6. Fanfare / Mother of the Dead Man (2:51)
7. Some Dirge (7:49)
8. Morning [part two] (1:18)
9. The New Funeral March (2:40)
10. The New National Anthem / The Survivors (6:35)

All composed by Carla Bley.

Information

Gary Burton, vibes
Larry Coryell, guitar
Steve Swallow, bass
Lonesome Dragon (Bob Moses), drums

plus

Steve Lacy, soprano sax
Mike Mantler, trumpet
Leandro "Gato" Barbieri, tenor sax
Jimmy Knepper, trombone, bass trombone
Howard Johnson, tuba, baritone sax
Carla Bley, piano, organ, conductor

Recorded in RCA's Studio B, New York City
Recording Engineer: Ray Hall
Cover art by Jim Fasso

Produced by Brad McCuen

[from the liner notes:]

"The Funeral was written throughout the year 1967, except for Silent Spring, which was commissioned by Steve Swallow as a string-bass piece and was written between January and March of 1966, and The Survivors and The New National Anthem, which were written in 1964. All of the pieces featuring the Quartet were written specifically for Gary Burton when in July of 1967 he expressed interest in recording the Funeral."

-Carla Bley

"Only the Survivors are dead"

-Paul Haines


Charlie Haden
Liberation Music Orchestra

 


Carla Bley
Tropic Appetites

Watt 1

1. What Will Be Left Between Us and the Moon Tonight? [for Japan] (11:00)
2. In India [to Irene] 1:10
3. Enormous Tots [to People's Music Works] (6:00)
4. Caucasian Bird Riffles [for Sheila] (5:05)
5. Funnybird Song [to Swallow] (1:15)
6. Indonesian Dock Sucking Supreme [to Peking Widow] (8:55)
7. Song of the Jungle Stream [to Besha and to Tadd Dameron] (10:15)
8. Nothing [for Watt] (3:35)

music by Carla Bley
words by Paul Haines

Information

Julie Tippetts, voice
Unidentified Cat (Gato Barbieri), tenor sax, percussion
Howard Johnson, voice, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano, baritone and bass saxophones, tubas
David Holland, cello, acoustic bass, bass guitar
Michael Mantler, trumpet, valve trombone
Toni Marcus, violin, viola
Carla Bley, voice, recorders, piano, electric piano, clavinet, organ, marimba, celeste, percussion
Paul Motian, drums, percussion

recorded September 1973 through February 1974
engineer: Eddie Korvin
Blue Rock Studio, New York

Julie Tippetts recorded November 1973
engineer: Frank Owen
Island Studios, London
special assistance: Richard Elen

mixed February and March 1974
engineer: Eddie Korvin
Blue Rock Studio, New York

photographs: Gregory Reeve
photographs used in collage taken by Paul Haines in Bali during 1972
album design: Paul McDonough

publisher: Copyright © 1974 by Watt Works (BMI)
produced by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler

Gatefold cover includes:

• Photographs of all band members and Paul Haines
• All words sung on the record
• A collage of photos taken in 1972 by Paul Haines in Bali, India.


Michael Mantler & Carla Bley
13 & 3/4

1. 13 (Michael Mantler) 22:00
2. 3/4 (Carla Bley) 23:45

Information

"With the help of overdubbing, all parts were played by the following musicians:"

13 (for piano and two orchestras)

Hal Archer, flute
Patrice Fisher, flute
Paul Moen, flute, soprano saxophone
Nicholas Pike, flute
Jim Odgren, soprano saxophone, clarinet
Courtenay Wynter, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Ken Adams, alto saxophone, clarinet
Don Davis, alto saxophone
Buddy Pearson, alto saxophone

Lou Marini, tenor saxophone
Richard Peck, tenor saxophone
Collin Tilton, tenor saxophone, clarinet
Hamiet Bluiett, baritone saxophone
Charles Davis, baritone saxophone
Ken McIntyre, baritone saxophone, bassoon
Waldemar Bhosys, oboe
Kathy Karlsen, oboe
Mike Lewis, oboe
George Barrow, bass clarinet

Gail Hightower, bassoon
Karl Hampton Porter, bassoon
John Clark, french horn
Peter Gordon, french horn
Bill Warnick, french horn
Greg Williams, french horn

Greg Bobulinski, trumpet
Lauren Draper, trumpet
John Eckert, trumpet
Leonard Goines, trumpet
Gary Brocks, trombone
Michael Gibbs, trombone
Rex Shrout, trombone
Earl McIntyre, bass trombone
Jack Jeffers, tuba
Bob Stewart, tuba

Lila Baker, violin
Brian Conklin, violin
Noreen Davis, violin
Oksana Lenec, violin
Michael Levine, violin
Betty Macdonald, violin
Laurie Schaller, violin
Alice Stern, violin
Mona Hector, viola
Virginia Izzo, viola
Deena Leff, viola
Drusilla Tesch, viola
Al Visscher, viola

Judy Dolce, cello
Clare Maher, cello
Judith Martin, cello
Hank Roberts, cello
Dave Moore, bass
Helen Newcombe, bass
Bill Rich, bass
Peter Warren, bass

Carla Bley, piano

Michael Mantler, conductor

3/4 (for piano and orchestra)

Paul Moen, alto flute
Roger Janotta, oboe
Collin Tilton, clarinet
Frank Nizzari, bassoon
Michael Mantler, trumpet
John Clark, french horn
Michael Gibbs, trombone
Bob Stewart, tuba

Betty MacDonald, violin
Kathy Seplow, violin
Mona Hector, viola
Michael Levine, viola
Clare Maher, cello
Hank Roberts, cello
Peter Warren, bass

David Samuels, marimba, vibes, chimes, orchestra bells, percussion
Stu Martin, misc. percussion
Michael Weinreich, misc. percussion
John Hunt, misc. percussion
Carla Bley, misc. percussion

Patrice Fisher, harp
Ursula Oppens, piano
Carla Bley, solo piano

Carla Bley, conductor

Recorded August 1975, Grog Kill Studio, Willow, NY
Mixed September 1975, Scorpio Sound, London
Engineer: Dinnis Weinreich, assisted by John Hunt

Special thanks to Richard Kapp and Jack Jeffers

This recording was made possible by the Ford Foundation's 1975 Recording - Publication Program

Scores and instrumental parts available from Watt Works

Photographs: Li Tjiong
Album Design: Paul McDonough

Publisher: Copyright ©1975 by Watt Works (BMI)
Produced by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler
Copyright (P) 1975 by Watt Works, Inc.
6 West 95th Street
New York, NY 10025

Album jacket also includes seven photographs of Mantler, Bley and the performers.


related media

Bill Smith/Ron Mann
Imagine the Sound

Information

From the VHS case: "The first feature documentary by Ron Mann (Grass, Comicbook Confidential) is an eloquent tribute to a group of highly celebrated artists that helped forge the avant-garde jazz of the 1960s. Critic and film historian Jonathan Rosenbaum has said Imagine the Sound "may be the best documentary on free jazz that we have." The film features mind expanding interviews and singular, dramatic performances by pianists Cecil Taylor and Paul Bley, tenor saxophone (sic) Archie Shepp, and trumpet player Bill Dixon. Not since Scorsese's The Last Waltz has a music documentary been so thorough and compatible with its subject. Alongside the dynamic performances, the film captures the diverse history and politicized roots of this unique musical genre. Imagine the Sound is an important chapter in the history of the jazz documentary."

"Essential viewing and listening for free-jazz devotees."
-Jonathan Rosenbaum, CHICAGO READER

Winner, the Chicago International Film Festival, Best Documentary, 1981

[From the laserdisc jacket:]

"Imagine the Sound, Ron Mann's first feature length film, was made in 1981 when the filmmaker was 23 years old. Mann had already made several short films when he met Bill Smith at an Archie Shepp concert in Toronto. Smith, a photographer and saxophonist, was editor of the jazz magazine Coda and co-owever of Sackville Records. They agreed to co-produce a film about music. Mann would direct and Smith would interview four musicians influential in the evolution of free form jazz in the late 50s and early 60s - Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Paul Bley and Bill Dixon.

Under the influence of his mentor Emile de Antonio, Mann created a performance-film/documentary which contradicts the traditions and clichés of both genres. Rather than shoot the musicians in front of a live audience, he had them perform specifically for the film and the film's audience. No attempt is made to hide the camera or crew in either the interviews or the performances. In the latter case, multiple cameras were used and the musicians were asked to perform pieces which were less than 10 minutes long - the length of a standard film magazine - so that editing of the music was not required. (Imagine the Sound is the first part of a trilogy. Mann has since made Poetry in Motion and Comic Book Confidential which apply similar strategies to poets and comic book artists.)

Breaking further with documentary traditions, Mann employed production designer, Sandy Kybartas. She gave each musician his own performance and interview background space. Taylor plays solo piano in an all white space, Bley against a pitch black backdrop. Shepp is interviewed surrounded by plants, Dixon in a room full of mirrors.

As much as the art direction and camera work added to the interviews, what makes them stand up to repeated viewings is what the musicians have to say. The film does not attempt complete biographies, rather the musicians talk of music, philosophy and life. They have wonderful stories to tell and they tell them with intelligencea nd wit: Shepp of how he found his sound by listening to himself on records, Dixon of his constant rage when he first came out of the Army, Bley of the first night he met Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. Both Shepp and Taylor read their poetry. Taylor's interview, like almost everything he does, becomes a performance piece with Taylor creating a dance as he approaches the piano. At one point Dixon says, "In this music the musicians are supposed to be stupid." Everything these four artists say and do contradicts the cliché of the jazz musician as an inarticulate, primitive genius.

But the heart of this film is the performances. Ron Mann's exquisite filming techniques mirror the spirit of the music. In the Taylor pieces, the camera swoops toward and then around the piano. When Bley plays a pensive composition, the camera recedes leaving him alone, almost in darkness. And, as Dixon's trio and Shepp's quartet perform, multiple cameras hold tight on the musicians and cut to each artist as they solo.

During an interview Bill Smith lamented that the film wasn't made twenty years earlier. Perhaps, but that would have been a different film. Imagine the Sound catches these four men at the height of their powers. As interview subjects, they have a perspective that evolved in the course of the twenty years of interplay between their lives and music. As musicians they've added control and maturity to the ferocity of their early work. This is great music and Imagine the Sound is a worthy film of it.

A technical note. Imagine the Sound was beautifully designed, lit and shot in 16mm. The image is grainier, however, than most 35 mm films. The musical performances which were recorded by Phil Sheridan produced superb sound."

-Joe Medjuck

1. Music is everything that one does
2. Introduction: Bill Dixon, Paul Bley, Archie Shepp
3. Paul Bley
4. Bill Dixon
5. Cecil Taylor
6. Finding a personal sound
7. Archie Shepp
8. Paul Bley: Improvisation of music
9. Reflecting on the 60's
10. A poem by Cecil Taylor
11. Losing the drums
12. Paul Bley
13. A jazz musician is a social category
14. Bill Dixon
15. Dr. King and Malcolm X
16. A poem by Archie Shepp
17. Cecil Taylor
18. Bill Dixon
19. The ingredients of music
20. Cecil Taylor
21. Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon, Paul Bley
22. Cecil Taylor
23. Credits

Paul Bley - solo piano

Bill Dixon - trumpet
Art Davis - bass
Freddie Waits - drums

Archie Shepp - tenor & soprano saxophone
Ken Werner - piano
Santi De Briano - bass
John Batsch - drums

Cecil Taylor - solo piano

VHS info:

1981, Color, 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1

LD info:

92 minutes - Color - 1981 - Canada
1 disc - Extended Play (CLV) - CX encoded
© 1989 Voyager Press

Director: Ron Mann
Producers: Ron Mann and Bill Smith
Editor: Sonya Polonsky
Director of Photography: Robert Fresco
Recording Engineer: Phil Sheridan
Executive Producer: Murray Sweigman
Artistic Coordinator: Clomin Onari
Production Manager: Salem Alaton
Sound Recordist: David Joliat
Lighting: Jock Brandeis
Production Designer: Sandra Kybartas
Mixer: Paul Coombe

Ordering information:

http://www.filmswelike.com/pages/dvdswelike_mann.html

Scroll down to "Imagine the Sound" and order it. Here's another link with some info and stills:

http://www.sphinxproductions.com/pages/film_imagine.html

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