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Listed: Ori Kaplan + Unstable Ensemble

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: New York saxophonist Ori Kaplan and vagabond improvisors Unstable Ensemble.





Listed: Ori Kaplan + Unstable Ensemble


Ori Kaplan

New York City saxophonist Ori Kaplan has his hat in many different rings. Over the past three years, Kaplan has collaborated with Susie Ibarra, William Parker, John Zorn, Roy Campbell, even Speedball Baby. A recipient of the Jerome Foundation Scholarship for Young Jazz Composers, Kaplan currently heads four different ensembles, plays in the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello and is an active member of Parker’s Little Huey Orchestra. The Tel Aviv native meshes several different aesthetics in his various groups, incorporating Middle Eastern and Asian traditions in a unique blend of jazz, rock and improv.

Kaplan left yesterday for a European tour with Gogol Bordello. For more information on the European Alkoholimpics 2003 Tour, click here.

1. William Parker – In Order To Survive – Compassion Seizes Bed-Stuy (Homestead Records) – One of the seminal recordings in my book! The bible for how it's done. How complexity, layers, interplay, but mostly emotional content come together. on my release Gongol (KFW 284) (Perc. Ensemble) I pay a diguised tribute to a couple of tracks from this cd. I think some of it is directly influenced by one of the repeatative melodic lines which Rob Brown plays so nicely.

2. Jimmy Lyons – Wee Sneezawee (Black Saint) – With Karen Borca...another example of how the Cecil Taylor language was bent, extended and interprated by Lyons and Borca. Lyons bringing the essence of bird to it and Borca so powerful at times i thought she sounded like Archie Shepp. The interplay is so beautifully woven it seems to be forming on its own. Effortless.

3. New York Art Quartet – New York Art Quartet (ESP) – This record is why I play music in some ways, or why I play the way I do. From sinking with this record into the stars in the desert to establishing my own alto/trombone dialogue with Steve Swell (Delirium-CIMP-223) one of those moments in history where a true mystical moment is captured. Truly groundbreaking. And to think that this was 3 or 4 years before Miles' Nefertiti or right before A Love Supreme is mind boggling.

4. Captain Beefheart – Trout Mask Replica (Reprise) – For years now I have wanted to understand how a band can sound so good. If art brut is in the essence of free expression in jazz, it climaxes on this record. It won me over and erased the difference between genres. I know the band practiced their ass off to achieve such results and it made me determined to do the same as much as i can.

5. Fanfare Ciocarlia – Radio Pascania (Pirhana) -"Sometimes when I tell people I come from Zece Prajini they think I come from the end of the earth. But here, at the end of the earth, is the right place to make music," -Trumpeter Costica, Cimai Made famous by Emir Kusturica's movie Underground, this eleven-man brass and woodwind band comes from the village of Zece Prajini, which lies near the Romanian-Moldavian border. They bring the wildest energy and capture the essence of life – weddings funerals and drinking. If you don't know them, just check them out.

6. Koηani Orkestar – L'Orient Est Rouge (Cramworld) – One of Macedonia's finest Roman brass bands. I even think that if fanfare is the nuttiest brass i've ever heard, Kocani is the most lyrical of the Balkan Roma Gypsy bands, butith a more drawn out meditative quality to them. Some of my favorite driving-around-the-Alps-by-dusk-on-tour kindof music. It's bone felt stuff.

7. Ivo Papazov – Balkanology (Hannibal) – These guys were huge rock stars in the early 80's in Bulgaria. They would play weddings and people would flock by the thousands to the hills around the wedding just to catch the band, causing traffic jams for many kilometers. They were frequently arrested by the cultural police for playing music with Turkish influence and not sticking to the official Bulgarian music. Sometimes they had to work as forced labor, digging ditches in the streets and being humiliated. They did to gypsy music what Bird did to swing music. There is not one gypsy musician who does not agree that Papazov is the best clarinetist in the world. Yuri Yunakov lives in NY. I studied with him a bit and he is one of my heroes.

8. Richard Goode – Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas (Nonesuch) – Get it. For life, it will help you very much. Get old with it, it will most likely just get better every year. It's my favorite life soundtrack, no words needed

9. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (Geffen)

10.Iggy Pop – Raw Power – Iggy – The idiot.

11. Tuxedo Moon – "What Use?/Crash!" – The song called "Cage" on Suite en Sous-Sol.

12. Ali Akbar Khan-Sarod – Anything on the all India Archival releases.

13. Nina Simone – Best Of or Live at Town Hall

14. Sonny Stitt – Genesis (Prestige) – With J.J. Johnson and Bud Powell.


Unstable Ensemble

The Unstable Ensemble is a fully free-improvising electro-acoustic group working in abstract terms of drifting ambience and melody. Often magnifying minute details while pulling out tufts of subtle form at times, the UE also forges into deeply layered noises and textures. Originally formed in Bloomington, Indiana in 1999 by guitarist Jason Bivins, the group's membership is constantly evolving and scattered between Bloomington and Raleigh, NC all the while maintaining a core of four: Marty Belcher (soprano sax), Jason Bivins (electric guitar), Matt Griffin (percussion), and Eric Weddle (mixing-board / tapes). For the June 2003 tour, Ian Davis (percussion), leader of the Micro-East Collective, will join for shows on 6/9-6/14.

Unstable Ensemble has released two albums on Weddle's label Family Vineyard – family-vineyard.com. A third is due this fall. Eric Weddle took part in this week's Listed.

As the Unstable Ensemble wraps up last minute preparation for tour, I have selected the some recordings I will jam out in the van and force upon the other members. Picking music for daily driving is a much different beast than sitting at home. During last summer's "Family Vineyard Showcase Tour" I drove all 3500 miles myself and outside of a few cloudy Krzysztof Komeda dubs and Richard Pryor comedy tapes, we didn't listen to any music. Just talked. Needless to say, we bonded more than enough then.

1. Melvin van Peebles – Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death (LP,A&M, 1968) – Somehow Melvin has slipped by being a relatively known cult figure. And it is a shame. Some people know him as Mario's dad or the Godfather of Blaxploitation (for his movies "Watermelon Man" and "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasss Song"). Even less folks know him as a seriously whacked musician. One listen to Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death and you will wonder how the hell he got A&M to give him money (let alone release this) and what kind of warped genius could create a genre-less album of 60s spirit! A hot beauty record of funk (and I am talking about funk froth from a tuba, no less) and almost schizophrenic story-telling of LSD-tinted ghetto life. A reissue is so badly needed for this. Hello Get Back! or Four Men With Beards – are you out there? People would freak out if they got a chance to hear Melvin and know about his astonishing life as a trolly car conductor, writer, film maker, expatriate, and story teller. Total genius.

2. Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano – The Hated Music (CD, Ecstatic Yod, 2001) – Luckily I picked this up right when it came out – so I have had about a year and half to live inside it. Besides the fact of Chris and Paul being beautiful and truth seeking people, their duo work (hell, trio and quartet too) can wipe clean any sour feelings I have and bowl through the air with such a rainbow arcing glory that I can not wait to be cruising at 70 mph with this blasting. And maybe it will incite Marty, Matt and Ian to let it those fire bathing spirits take over some nights.

3. Various Artists – Red Snerts: The Sound of Gulcher (LP, Gulcher, 1981) – Epoch defining snap-shot of the Indiana new wave/punk scene cira 1981. This record can start a party. Just recently I saw two of the bands from this record play a reunion: The Gizmos and Down Jones and the Industrials, and it was a giddy feeling of Hoosier pride and pure joy. Especially when both bands played their waring classics, "The Midwest Can Be Alright" (Giz) and "Can't Stand the Midwest" (Dow). Unfortunately the show happened in order to raise money for the family of Dow Jones' drummer Tim North who recently lost his battle with cancer. If more people heard Red Snerts they would understand Indiana better. Really. Gulcher recently re-issued this as a CD in an unfortunate manner: shoddy packaging lacking any linear notes and even worse sound. It may cost you more but search out an original LP, I keep a CDR version in my car at all times.

4. On Fillmore – On Fillmore (Quakebasket / Locust, 2002) – Live, this duo of Darin Gray (acoustic bass) and Glenn Kotche (vibes, percussion) is blissfully mesmerizing. If you haven't seen one of their handful of shows, this album will do just fine. The cycles of rhythm churn so awesomely in my head that I am a little worried about driving to this, since it is trance-inducing. There is also the karmic fear that the music will send the UE spiraling down the wrong highway. The piece "Forever on 46" was named as a reminder of the faulty directions I gave Darin and Loren MazzaCane Connors on their way to Bloomington a few years ago.

5. Keith Rowe, Gunter Muller, Taku Sugimoto – The World Turned Upside Down CD (Erstwhile, 2000) – While not my favorite work by these three, I find the entire album to be a perfect driving soundtrack when the sun is quick cut by the forest in the late afternoon. Taku places each note perfectly between Keith and Gunter. So damn clean and inspiring. After seeing Keith play live, his sound made much more sense, not just in the execution, but the presentation. Three master musicians at the top of the game and raising the bar again for all improvisors and sound creators.

6. 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin' (CD, Interscope, 2003) – I have not heard this record, it is still in the wrap from buying it at Border's with a gift card weeks ago. But I fell for the hype. I mean, it sold millions of copies in 23 minutes or something – so it has to be great, right? After years of being wildly out of the MTV loop, I find myself back in, wondering if Avril writes the lyrics and music herself, or if the new Pink single will be any good (like her new look). And if the answer is no for both – does anyone care? I mean, I do have more anticipation about the upcoming Sachiko M/Toshimaru Nakamura/Otomo Yoshihide Erstwhile CD being a revelation or not, but my neglect of mass culture as finally ended, and I am loving every second of this new

7. The Radio – I only listen to two stations in Bloomington, WFBH and WFIU. One is the community station I DJ at and the other is our local NPR affiliate, and besides that there really isn't much else. But while driving across states, and you can tune in some delicious local flavor. Call-ins, political rants, bumbling DJs. I love it all. During the drive home on the first UE tour, I remember listening to 5 or so hours of commentary on the Timothy McVeigh execution.

8. Half Japanese – 120CS mix tape – An aborted 97 minute mix of Jad solo and Half Japanese. I can't even remember who it was for, or the reason, but thankfully I kept it. After hearing God Is My Co-Pilot's 1991 "How I Got Over" 7" I was pointed toward HJ. This was also right when Kill Rock Stars released their first LP comp, with HJ on there. Things really never seemed the same. Just like hearing Throbbing Gristle, Derek Bailey and the Sugarcubes. Life changing. Anyway. When things get boring, when you need a laugh, a smile and a reality check about life, Half Japanese is there for you.

9. Comedy Albums – Who says people in an electro-acoustic improv group can't be funny? It is amazing how fast time flies when listening to a comedy album: Red Fox, Richard Pryor, Sammy Davis, Sam Kinison, Rodney Dangerfield. I can't just pick one. David Cross. A friend promised me a few DC bootlegs, which I can not wait to hear. What could be better? Oh, Longmont Potion Castle could. That shit never fails to crack me up until I ache. My girlfriend prefers books on tape, but I just can't sit through it. I'd much rather hear Rudy Ray Moore's "This Pussy Belongs to Me."

10. Rope – Widow's First Dawn CD-advance (Family Vineyard) – D'oh! How insular of me, listing an album on my own label that won't be out until October 7th! Oh well. Last summer I managed to organize a two-plus week "Family Vineyard Showcase" tour that included the UE, Darin Gray and Rope. While Darin and the UE fit closely together with our abstract sounds filling-out art spaces and warehouses, the steel crushing weight of Rope amazed and frightened all who stayed for their "headlining" set. Night after night those three honed these songs into a magnificent brutal glory that is searingly romantic equally horrific – like stab wounds pound into your chest and being relived you can finally let go. Originally a bass/vocal and guitar duo from Poland, Rope is now Chicago based with a massive drumming force propelling them from the free jazz orbit to a metal scrap yard, usually in a single song. While Rope won't be rolling with us this year, we can listen to this fab, recording. And best of all, UE's Marty plays sax on two tracks – and he has yet to hear the finished mix.

11. Top Ten Personal Headphone Listening After the Steering Wheel is Torn From My Hands:

1. Ami Yoshida/Cosmos/Astro*Twin
2. Jason Ajemian solo CDR
3. Grand Funk Railroad
4. Le Quan Ninh
5. Nuggets boxset
6. Luc Ferrari
7. Greg Kelley
8. Pink Floyd
9. Neon Hunk
10. Bjork.

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