Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jazz Euphorium November 16th

On This Week's Jazz Euphorium, we take a listen to the music of Juma Sultan's
Aboriginal Music Society off the Father Of Origin Box set just put out on the
Eremite Label

1. Fan Dance, part I

2. Fan Dance, part II
3. Fan Dance, part III
4. Ode to a Gypsy Son
5. untitled
6. Sundance
7. untitled

8. untitled, part II

From Eremite's Site:

Deep archeology into a long buried & previously undocumented chapter in the history of the early ’70s loft era brings forth the revelatory Father of Origin (MTE-54/55/56), Eremite’s box set retrospective of percussionist/bassist Juma Sultan’s Aboriginal Music Society.  Drawn from Sultan’s mammoth private archive of recordings, this ground-breaking set includes two audiophile LPs & a CD, a 28 page 12x12" book featuring previously unpublished photographs & ephemera & a detailed historical essay by jazz scholar Michael Heller, all manufactured to highest quality-freak standards.  This old-school multi-media extravaganza exposes some of the most extraordinary & explosive free jazz of the period to the light of day for the first time.

 Established by Sultan & percussionist Ali Abuwi in Woodstock in 1968, Aboriginal Music Society was both a radical arts presenting organization & a killer band.  Dedicated to musician self-sufficiency and stubbornly non-commercial, AMS waged guerrilla cultural warfare against mainstream America from strongholds in rural Woodstock & from lofts on New York’s Lower East Side.  For ten years, Sultan & the loose alliance of like-minded musicians in AMS produced independent concerts, owned & operated its own recording studio, & collaborated with legendary artist-run New York loft space Studio We on performances & educational programs.  But during that whole time, they never released a record.

Inspired by an emerging understanding of African cultures & the political ideas of the black power movement, AMS synthesized an African approach to percussion and collective performance with the revolutionary jazz of its day.  In open-ended free improvisations they played an incendiary mix of massive trap kit & hand drum grooves & heaven-storming free jazz.  The music was a cry of freedom, a declaration of black cultural artistic & political independence; & until now it has not been heard since the day it was made.

Father of Origin for the first time reveals the cross fertilization between the New York loft scene & an extremely rich Woodstock music scene, a powerful confluence of artists & sensibilities that has long gone unacknowledged.  In Woodstock Sultan & Abuwi were tight with members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, including saxophonist Gene Dinwiddie, guitarist Ralph Walsh, bassist Rod Hicks, & the late, great AACM drummer Philip Wilson, all of whom crop up on different sessions in Father of Origin.  Sultan himself easily bridged musical genres.  He was a member of Jimi Hendrix’s Gypsy Sun & Rainbows & performed in the band's legendary Woodstock Festival concert.  In New York, AMS worked with a huge cross section of the wildly fertile & creative loft scene, including saxophonists Frank Lowe & Julius Hemphill, trumpeter Earl Cross, cellist Abdul Wadud, & drummer Charles “Bobo” Shaw, who are all heard from on Father of Origin.

The first of the set’s two LPs, a 1970 Boston studio date, features a New York-Woodstock sextet—including Sultan, Abuwi, Dinwiddie, Wilson, Walsh, & Cross—engaged in a characteristically percussion-heavy improvisation.  The African-to-free percussion maintains a relentless rhythmic pressure on the band, and Dinwiddie responds with a powerful performance whose genuine free-jazz fire will completely re-write the book on the late saxophonist.  The fourteen minute "Ode to a Gypsy Son," Sultan's meditation on Hendrix, finds Sultan, Abuwi & Cross over-dubbing flutes, home-made wind instruments, chanting & percussion into a startlingly original & deeply psychedelic veneration.

The other vinyl disc features a private jam session by Sultan, Abuwi, & saxophonist Frank Lowe at the Broadway headquarters of AMS.  Recorded in April 1971, it predates by several months Lowe's recording debut on Alice Coltrane's World Galaxy & by over two years his debut recording as a leader, the classic ESP side Black Beings, making it the earliest example of the free jazz titan’s music currently available.  The circumstances were casual, but definitely not the music.  Lowe was reaching a coruscating early career peak & the percussionists goad him to some very intense playing.  The session is the best illustration we have of Lowe's stated early ambition to fuse Pharaoh Sanders & John Coltrane into a single cosmic cry.

The CD features yet another historic meeting—an undated concert with the Woodstock crew & a trio of Midwesterners recently relocated to New York—saxophonist Julius Hemphill, cellist Abdul Wadud, & drummer Charles “Bobo” Shaw, all members of the St. Louis music & arts collective, Black Artists Group.  Wadud & Hemphill are outstanding in this sprawling Aboriginal Music Society collective improvisation with soloists weaving in & out of the teeming drums & percussion.

Whenever they performed—whether in the studio, the bandstand, in private jam sessions or on the Woodstock village green—Juma Sultan & the Aboriginal Music Society played with a full sense of the occasion.  Every opportunity to make music was an event and they knew it, throwing everything they had into the music every time.  Father of Origin presents three of the most memorable of those events, played by a band previously lost to history.

Father of Origin is presented in a heavyweight telescoping box in paper wraps screen-printed by Alan Sherry at Siwa, who also screen-printed the LP sleeves, CD jacket & additional loose memorabilia.  Audio restoration & mastering from the original analog tapes by Michael King at Reel Recordings.  LPs cut by Steve Fallone at Sterling & manufactured by RTI.  Edition of 600 copies.  First 100 copies purchased at eremite.com include a promo only 7" featuring two-track "dub" re-mixes by Joshua Abrams of 'Ode to a Gypsy Son' & MTE-55 'untitled'.

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