Recording by Tilo Baumheier at Amsterdam
Narada Burton Greene: Composer, Pianist, Arranger, Author.
Originally from Chicago, he began his long career of many recordings and performances in New York´s legendary jazz scene of the 1960’s. He and Bassist Alan Silva contributed to the beginnings of free jazz in New York with the formation of their Free Form Improvisation Ensemble in 1963. He also co-founded the East West Trio with Indian sitarist Jamaluddin Bhartiya and percussionist Daoud Amin in 1973, one of the first World Music groups (and long before they called it that.) Since that time he has travelled all over Europe and the USA with performances and recordings of his compositions and arrangements in many different types of music styles and ensembles with many top musicians. As Burton says it: “Music is or should be universal, without limits.. Borders eventually become boring.. they should be transcended. I like all kinds of music as long as it´s not dull or repetitious or superficial.. as long as it´s creative and from the heart.” His 14 piece New Age Jazz Chorale (1975-78) did concerts and recordings in Europe, years before most other groups were termed as “New Age”. In the last 29 years he’s been busy with his klezmer, Sephardic, Balkan, jazz ensembles Klezmokum and Klez-Edge, and various jazz solo, trio or quartet combinations. He also has a solo orchestral electronics program, teaches jazz, world music workshops, and lectures. His autobiographical book written over 20 years: “Memoirs of A Musical Pesty-Mystic” appeared in print in 2001 (Cadence Jazz Books). Burton’s recent releases: Klez-Edge: “The Struggle Can Be Enobling” on his label Disk Respect; on the Improvising Beings label: “Compendium 2016-2017” recorded at the Goethe Institute and Bim Huis in Amsterdam. Just out: (May 2019) “Life’s Intense Mystery” on the Astral Spirits label. Burton’s music is featured on almost 90 recordings: records and CD’s. This year he celebrates 57 years as a professional: presenting his music to the world.
“Narada Burton Greene has been a part of the new improvisation music scene for so many years, he has been such a singular presence within it, he practically has become an institution of one. The Burton Greene of today is flourishing, a pianist-composer-improviser of many facets, a creator who thrives in his embodiment of tradition and change, freedom and structure, the past and the future. Or so it seems to me as I listen to his solo performance Live at Kerrytown House (No Business NBCD 39). Maestro Greene is like a coral island, each piece of what it is to be Burton Greene remains, the earlier conjoining with successive waves of later developments, nothing left behind but everything coming to bear on the present now of what he plays today. So on this solo set you hear some of the "free" elements of early Greene, the more composed avant elements, the expressively improvised tonalities, melodic originality, harmonic movement, a hint of stride and bop, all a part of who Burton Greene is today.” Gapplegate Music Review.
“Greene retains his fiery, pyrotechnic pianism, though he imbues the performance with a sense of elegance, a refined approach where he makes the notes count, whether lushly harmonic or cuttingly vibrant.” Troy Collins review of Burton Greene Quintet CIMP CD “Signs of the Times” Signal to Noise Magazine.
LIVE AT GRASLAND: For those who have never listened to Greene's amazing solo keyboard work before, this will be a novel experience. Stylistically, he is definitely jazz, free-form, & o-u-t... by the same token, though, he sounds like Mozart in (many) places. Masterful touch & playful spirit combine to express joy for the player as well as the listener. This is "not" jazz, & it's "not" classical, per se (...) it is BURTON GREENE's piano, & there is no "in between". Improvijazzation Nation Review by Rotcod Zzaj of BG solo CD on Drimala Records.
“The miracle of Greene’s music is its never-ending luster. Not one piece in this performance eludes its brightness or demonstrates lack of respect for the instrument he plays… The sage that he is, as his Yogic name Narada indicates, Burton Greene embraces an essential cultural core in his music. He never flounders and always is pondering the next step, whether that be for a solo or group context. Coming out of a meditative state of solitude or the conviviality of others, Greene is giving us his truth of self.”
Guillaume Gargaud is a French composer and improvisational guitarist. He's already participated about twenty five albums and composed many musics for contemporary dance and movies. He has collaborated with Stephen Grew (UK) Conserveries Mémorielles (Quebec) Light Cone (Paris) Marc Edwards (NY), Ben Bennett (US) Jack Wright (US), Raymond Alan Kaczynski, Mike Majkowski,(Berlin), Zachary Darrup (US) Korvat Auki Ensemble (Helsinki) Pied Nu (FR) F.Barabino (Buenos Aires) Guy Bettini, Nathalie Peters (Switzerland) Sergio Naddei (Napoli) Sandrine Lascaux (Le havre) and many more. He plays "solo" in Europe and the United States & Canada. He lives in Le Havre in France where he also teaches the improve music.
He has played recently at Mixtur Festival (Barcelona) Colchester Arts Center (UK) WIM (Zürich) CreativeFest (Lisboa) Overtoom 301 (Amsterdam) Elastic Festival (Oxford) Skolska 28 (Prague) Quiet Violence Festival (Berlin) Kaunas in art Festival (Lithuania) The house art (Ostrava) Oslo10 (Basel) MuMa Art Center (France) USA & Canada Tour Huset-KBH (Copenhagen) MOZG (Warsaw) AZILO (Naples) Art Center MadXII (Latina) Interpenetration (Graz) kunstbetrieb (Vienna) Offene Ohren MUG (Munich) Festival M.I.C Circo Ru (Locarno) Noise Delivery Festival (Turin) Forum Box (Helsinki) (…)
Then there’s Guillaume Gargaud. A trained improviser, Gargaud seems continually inspired by the possibilities within the guitar itself to create startlingly new sounds and textures, aided by software, loopers, and a small host of stomboxes to coax all the necessary timbres from just one instrument instead of aided by swathes of synth wash and field-recordings. On his latest record, 2011’s Lost Chords, Gargaud has created an essential piece of music for the electronic avant-garde, a masterwork that ranks alongside Fennesz’s Black Sea in regards to its sophistication, attention to detail, influence and brilliance. While being an electronic record, it also stands as a beautiful solo guitar record, recalling elements of Steffen Basho-Junghans or Nick Drake. Listening to Lost Chords is a journey through brittle and glitched timbres enveloping a core of beautiful and haunting melodies, bridling against their dissonant sonic partners to create a work of inexhaustible layers and complexity, all the while never losing sight of how important good songwriting is. It’s avant-garde noisemaking, for sure, but each piece feels like a song, not just an unmoving cacophony of knob-turning (not that indulgent knob turning isn’t intriguing, just rarely gratifying). The album is probably the finest example of contemporary guitar composition that I’ve yet come across, and its release at the beginning of this year seems to herald a whole new approach to traditional instruments that are ususally bogged down in the tube amp and three-chord world. Traditional adventurists and adventurous traditionalists should definitely seek this astonishing little gem out, just to see what’s possible. And for all admirers of the different and dynamic, Lost Chords is ten pieces of gorgeous sound.
Here Gargaud acheives visceral noise with an Americana twist; contorted guitar twangs, dust bowl acoustic guitar plucks that might accompany a low budget indie film of travelling over the Mexican desert, rocky horizons in the distance. Similar to James Ferraro's, hazy Old English Spelling Bee release early last year - 'Last American Hero', but harsher in sound and significantly less restrained. These are a rough set of textures, worn sheets of chords, and at the same time beautiful medody. Opening track Oeil Humide (the watery eye), and indeed the majority of the album flies between walls of noise, and other unheard-of noises from Gargaud's guitar. The density of the sound is almost overwhelming, thick and heavy. Seemingly erratic attacks at the guitar strings, somehow keep a coherency. Tracks 'Sortir' and 'Passerelle' fizz with pure electric energy, heavily treated through effects. Gargaud doesn't neglect any part of the guitar's range, from ground rumbling bass, to glowing single treble notes. Penultimate track 'Cesser' provides a respite for the listener, before ending on 'Rever de courier'; like being caught in a plane slipstream, the sun in our eyes. Lost Chords is a glisteningly fierce piece, exciting and unpredictable. The thought that Gargaud may well have improvised large parts of this album makes for an all the more absorbing listen. A great kick start to the year for Dead Pilot Records, and a welcome introduction to Guillaume Gargaud if new to his work. I'd urge you to pick up this album now, you won't regret it.
Sometimes, one can’t help but wonder about music's “what ifs”. The mind can conjure infinite possibilities: technology can be used or abused to breed something totally new, or new ideas can be grafted to the backs of the old. Similar thoughts wandered through my brain as I listened to French guitarist Guillaume Gargaud’s Lost Chords. I wondered, is this what a Tim Hecker/Christian Fennesz collaboration would sound like?
The first track tells all, as manipulated guitar chords are buried beneath a humongous layer of noise and feedback. The song captivates from its very first moment. The sound is so thick, the layers so wonderfully placed, that it instantly reminds one of Hecker's An Imaginary Country. “Sortir” then lands somewhere between Fennesz’ Endless Summer and Black Sea. For the first time on the album, a guitar noise is clearly apparent. We can hear it being played, or at least played, processed, cut up, stretched, filtered, transposed and crashed neck-first into a seabed of fellow guitar lines. The effect is enthralling; with the proper imagination, the song can give birth to an abundance of visualizations, daydreams and emotions.
But I’m being a bit unfair here. Limiting Gargaud’s music to the summation of two other musicians would be taking a lot from the man himself. Gargaud's music possesses a personal stamp, and the effort and detail he devotes to every track should earn him a place among experimental music’s elite. In fact, the album's production is one of its key features. One can sense certain sounds rising and crawling from a distance while others step back; some move right and dominate for a while, only to fall back into equilibrium and become balanced by sounds that appear on the left. These little things differentiate a great album from a very good one.
“Longue Route” and “Cesser” provide relief by offering contemplative room. In these tracks, one can occasionally recognize the notes being played, which allows the ears a break from the noise and glitches. The outer hums remain present, but in a more restrained sense, adding flavor and extending the array of moods. Album closer, “Rêver”, echoes the album's beginning. The trip is over, and the lost chords remain lost within an the layered sounds and effects.
Some albums stir up forums, cause waves of anticipation and ultimately disappoint. Others remain known to a lucky few. Lost Chords is one of the latter kind, and will definitely turn many heads if it receives its due attention. If the Hecker/Fennesz collaboration never happens, Lost Chords will remain the best approximation, and perhaps just a little bit more. -Mohammed Ashraf