The Wire


Robert Mugge’s 1986 film Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus to be rereleased

Film maker Robert Mugge's 1986 documentary about the legendary jazz saxophonist will be released on Blu-ray and DVD

The Philadelphia based film maker Robert Mugge's 1986 documentary film Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus will be reissued on Blue-ray and DVD in August.

After he completed the UK's Channel 4 film The Return Of Ruben Blades in 1984, Mugge followed the advice of jazz critic Francis Davis to begin work on a new documentary about the tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. With the help of Davis and Sonny’s wife and manager Lucille Rollins, among others, Mugge filmed footage of Rollins performing at Tokyo's Koseinenkin Hall on 18 May 1986, and Opus 40, a sculpted rock quarry in upstate New York on 24 August the same year. This was the gig where Rollins jumped off the stage into the audience but misjudged the height and broke his heel. After the briefest of pauses he continued playing. The film also interviews jazz critics Ira Gitler, Gary Giddins and Francis Davis, while Mugge himself interviews Sonny and Lucille Rollins on a park bench in New York City.

Named after his 1956 album, Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus, is released in Blu-ray, DVD and digital formats on 4 August. Mugge supervised the remastering process and created a new bonus feature about the making of the film called Leaps And Bounds. IN addition, the release will feature audio-only performances of "G-Man" and "Don't Stop The Carnival", which were originally recorded for the film.

Film trailer below, and you can buy it here:

Dais Records celebrate their tenth birthday

Having notched up more than 100 releases, the US based label will mark their anniversary with two specials featuring Drew McDowall and guests

Dais records celebrate ten years in action this September with two special shows. Formed in 2007 by Gibby Miller and Ryan Martin, they operate from both Los Angeles and Brooklyn, New York, and in the last decade they’ve added over 100 releases to their discography. Their featured artists include Cold Cave, Iceage, King Dude, Youth Code, Drew McDowall and Drab Majesty, and they have also reissued material by COUM Transmissions, Ragnar Grippe, Ghédalia Tazartès, Hunting Lodge and Maurizio Bianchi. Earlier this year Little Annie's debut LP Soul Possession was reissued by the label, and last year they digitised the entire Psychic TV back catalogue. They’re also working with Sacred Bones on a documentary film about Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth.

Both Dais’s anniversary events will feature Drew McDowall performing a rendition of Coil's drone work Time Machines. One will happen at Los Angeles The Regent on 2 September with guests Drab Majesty, High-Functioning Flesh, Body Of Light, Cold Showers and more. The other will take place at New York Queens Knockdown Center on 22 September. Featured guests at the latter include Little Annie Anxiety and Hiro Kone performing songs from Little Annie's Soul Possession and Jackamo, plus Robert Turman, Scout Paré-Phillips, Drekka and Wetware, and DJ sets from Pieter Schoolwerth, JS Aurelius and Nikki Sneakers.

Kickstarter launched to complete new Butthole Surfers' biography

Ben Graham’s Scatological Alchemy: A Gnostic Biography Of The Butthole Surfers is in its final stages – now funds are needed for editing, type setting and more

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to cover the final stages in the production of Ben Graham’s new Butthole Surfers biography. Called Scatological Alchemy: A Gnostic Biography Of The Butthole Surfers, the book will attempt to “pull the true significance of The Butthole Surfers' legacy from the wreckage”, recounting their history as well as taking an in-depth look at their discography.

This isn't the only recent publication documenting the Texan band: it follows James Burns’s 2015 Let's Go to Hell: Scattered Memories Of The Butthole Surfers.

Scatological Alchemy: A Gnostic Biography Of The Butthole Surfers will be published by Eleusinian Press, who are running the campaign to cover the editing, type setting and proof reading costs, as well as, ideally, the book launch in Graham's hometown Brighton. The campaign will end on 23 July, with the book's projected publication date being the end of summer 2017.

Pioneering Brazilian electronic composer Jocy De Oliveira’s 1981 album reissued

In 1968 Oliveira became the sole Latin American contributor to Source: Music Of The Avant Garde

The Blume label has just reissued Jocy De Oliveira’s 1981 album Estórias Para Voz, Instrumentos Acústicos E Eletrônicos. Oliveira, who started off her career as a concert pianist, was born in Brazil but moved to the US and Europe to study music. She has worked with Stravinsky, Luciano Berio, Iannis Xenakis, Cláudio Santoro, John Cage and Manuel Enriquez. In the 1960s she moved towards composition. Indeed, as early as 1961 she worked with Berio on a collaborative theatre piece titled Berio Apague Meu Spot Light, which is believed to be the first performance of electronic music in Brazil. She went on to become the sole Latin American contributor to Source: Music Of The Avant Garde, a publication that also featured contributions from Pauline Oliveros and Annea Lockwood, among others.

Originally released in 1981, Estórias Para Voz, Instrumentos Acústicos E Eletrônicos hit the ground during the last years of Brazil's military dictatorship and it was met with controversy. “Its works draw on a diverse range of the country’s musics and percussion traditions, as well as Indian raga structures and Japanese Shomyo singing – inspired in part by the sounds of immigrant communities within Sao Paulo, the city where Oliveira grew up,” explains Blume's press release.

This first time reissue of the album comes as a limited edition LP in red vinyl. You can listen to “Estoria IV Para Vozes Violino Electronico Baixo Guitarra E Percussao” from Estórias Para Voz, Instrumentos Acústicos e Eletrônicos

The release is available via Sound Ohm.

Jazz festival marks John Coltrane's Walthamstow performance

One day improv festival to take place in East London this September

On 16 September Walthamstow's Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub will host a full day of free improvisation at an event called Discovery. Taking place 50 years after John Coltrane's death, the festival is keen to mark another event which had John Coltrane play at this east London town in the London borough of Waltham Forest, some 56 years ago. Coltrane performed at the Granada Theatre in Walthamstow on 17th November 1961 while on a Jazz at the Philharmonic European tour. To mark this, there will be a raffle for a signed test pressing of Evan Parker, John Edwards and John Russell's Walthamstow Moon: '61 Revisited , a recording made in commemoration of Coltrane's Walthamstow appearance, and which was recorded last year in the same space on 186 Hoe Street E17, now called the Mirth, Marvel & Maud. The release is forthcoming on Byrd Out. Also on sale at the event is a print of a painting by Gina Southgate of Thurston Moore and John Russell.

The momentous line up includes: Lee Boyd Allatson, Steve Beresford, Alison Blunt, Mark Browne, Nigel Coombes, Viv Corringham, Claude Deppa, Jim Dvorak, John Edwards, Satoko Fukuda, Kay Grant, Rick Jensen, Ivor Kallin, Stefan Keune, Anders Lindsjö, Hannah Marshall, Marcio Mattos, Ian MacGowan, Yoko Miura, Mopomoso Workshop Group, Jordan Muscatello, Rachel Musson, Maggie Nicols, Steve Noble, Michele Paccagnella, Evan Parker, Ola Paulson, Sonic Pleasure, John Russell, Enzo Rocco, Mark Sanders, Sebastian Sterkowicz, Paul G. Smyth, South Leicestershire Improvisers Ensemble, Luisa Tucciariello, Dave Tucker, Roger Turner, Anders Uddeskog, Alex Ward, Armorel Weston, Veryan Weston, Alan Wilkinson and Mia Zabelka.

Tickets are on sale at £25 each or £15 concessions. The is also a special Discovery ticket priced at £100 which is said to include the entire Weekertoft (the label who are hosting the event) catalogue and some rare gig posters.

Pierre Henry has died aged 89

The French composer, musique concrète and electroacoustic music innovator died in hospital on 5 July

Pierre Henry was born in Paris on 9 December 1927. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire between 1938–48 with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. As he explained to Rahma Khazam in The Wire 160, these early years saw his introduction to the concepts he would later use in his music. “I used to play in an orchestra, and I was struck by the fact that depending on where you were placed, you would hear the prolific composer of electroacoustic music differently. And if you selected short extracts and listened to them, they took on a completely new meaning, because they were out of context.”

While studying as a percussionist under Messiaen, Henry met the musique concrete pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. He had heard Schaeffer's early works and went to meet him at RTF (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française), in the studio founded by Schaeffer some years earlier. Following a collaboration featuring Henry on percussion, the pair started to work together.

Between 1949–58 Henry worked at Shaeffer's Club d'Essai studio and in 1950 he and Schaeffer composed Symphonie Pour Un Homme Seul. Indeed, in The Wire 305, Philip Clark referred to this piece as “the moment musique concrète properly arrived, when their techniques had become malleable enough to carry the expressive language for which they were aiming”.

In 1951, Schaeffer, Henry and sound engineer Jacques Poullin founded the Groupe de Recherches de Musique Concrète, Club d 'Essai de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française at RTF in Paris. A purpose built electroacoustic music studio, it was used by such notable composers as Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraqué, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edgard Varèse, Iannis Xenakis and others.

In 1952 Henry composed a work for Jean Grémillon's Astrologie Ou Le Miroir De La Vie, which is said to be the first musique concrète piece constructed for film. He then left RTF and alongside Jean Baronnet founded Apsone-Cabasse Studio, the first private electronic studio in France, where he furthered his explorations in electronic sounds and musique concrète. IN Henry would go on to pay musical homage to Luigi Russolo and Ludwig van Beethoven, as well as continue making solo works for ballet and film. In 1996 he composed a series of pieces Chez Henry, with Intérieur/Extérieur made specifically for performance inside his house. Talking to Philip Clark more than ten years later in 2009, he said: “Today I feel less inspired. We’re living at a time where everything is controlled, planned and codified and even popular anymore, it's imposed upon us.

“I think it’s a big mistake to call today’s music electronic music,” he continued. “People do things with computers and samples but it’s not the same approach as the way I work, or how Karlheinz Stockhausen worked in his electronic pieces. There is not the same craft, and it’s not progress.”

You can read Rahma Khazam article in The Wire 160 by clicking here, and Philip Clark's in The Wire 305 by clicking on this link.

Pierre Henry died at Saint-Joseph Hospital in Paris.

Mika Taanila’s cameraless feature film Mannerlaatta released as a box set

Premiered last year, the film (English title: Tectonic Plate) features a score by the late Mika Vainio

Film maker and founder member of Finnish teen post-punk outfit Swissair Mika Taanila has released his 2016 film Mannerlaatta on Blu-ray. The 74 minute lettrist film, which premiered last February at Berlinale Forum Expanded, is based on the fear of flying. It was made entirely without a camera.

Poet Harry Salmenniemie wrote the text for the film and the late Mika Vainio scored the 50 minute soundtrack – he had previously worked with Taanila on A Physical Ring (2002) and Return Of The Atom (2015). “Mika composed and recorded the music at quite an early stage of the two and a half year project, so it dominated much of the editing rhythm of the visual narration,” Taanila explained. “For inspiration I sent Mika two of Harry’s books, the text for this film and some samples of photocopy/photogram materials.”

The film is released as a box set named after its English title Tectonic Plate, with graphic design by Markus Pyöräla and sound design by Olli Huhtanen. It includes Finnish and English versions of the film as well as the original texts by Salmenniemi (translated by Lola Rogers). Also included are two short films, the aforementioned A Physical Ring and Optical Sound (2005), the latter of which has Taanila use the same technique applied in Mannerlaatta – that of photocopying directly on clear 35 mm film. The set also contains an illustrated booklet, plus an interview with Taanila and Salmenniemi on the making of the film, and an audio recording of film critic Olaf Möller in conversation with Mika Taanila.

Watch a trailer below:

Limited to 300 copies, the box set costs €35 and is available via Ektro Records.

Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert at London’s Cafe Oto

Cafe Oto’s charity show for victims of the West London fire disaster features Aisha Orazbayeva, Beatrice Dillon, Adam Bohman and many others

“A simple title, but it makes the purpose of this concert clear,” state Cafe Oto. “The aim is to raise a substantial amount of money to donate to charities and groups supporting the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster. The artists participating are from a diversity of musical genres, they are united by their singular talents and an unswerving commitment to their art.”

The benefit concert run throughout the day on Saturday 15 July, starting with a matinee performance from 2–4pm. The evening performance runs from 7:30–11pm, followed by “party tunes until midnight”.

Participating artists are: Aisha Orazbayeva, Pat Thomas, Howlround, Kuljit Bhamra, Keiko Kitamura, Adam Bohman, Shadow Justice Crew, and Clive Graham of Paradigm Discs, plus DJ sets from Beatrice Dillon and Lee Gamble.

Watch Aisha Orazbayeva perform with Tim Etchells:

Recommended donation £10 on the door, minimum donation £5, but entry is free for Grenfell Tower residents, firefighters and NHS medical staff. More information can be found on Cafe Oto's website.

Kelan Phil Cohran has died

The Chicago bandleader and composer has passed away aged 90

The composer, multi-instrumentalist, AACM co-founder and Sun Ra associate Kelan Phil Cohran has died.

Born in Oxford, Mississippi, Cohran was raised in St Louis, Missouri. Following membership of a series of ensembles led by pianist Jay McShann in the early 1950s (and later a US Navy band) he was introduced to Sun Ra by saxophonist John Gilmore in 1959. Joining the Arkestra, Cohran contributed trumpet and the occasional stringed instrument to Interstellar Low Ways, Holiday For Soul Dance, Fate In A Pleasant Mood and Angels And Demons At Play.

Opting to stay in Chicago when the Arkestra left the city, he was a key figure in the 1965 formation of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and formed the Artistic Heritage Ensemble to perform at the AACM's debut show. This group's 1968 debut album On The Beach is revered by many, including Wire contributor Peter Shapiro, who described it as "astonishing" in a 2001 interview feature on Cohran (The Wire 207).

One of Cohran's innovations was the invention of the Frankiphone aka Space Harp, a modified version of the African kalimba. The instrument was subsequently adopted by Maurice White of R&B outfit Earth Wind & Fire as well as the Arkestra. He remained highly active throughout the 2000s and 2010s, including playing with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a group containing members of his family.

Subscribers can read Peter Shapiro's in depth piece on Cohran via our online archive here

Christian Wolff has been commissioned to write a new work for Apartment House

Resistance will be performed alongside John Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra

A new composition by Christian Wolff will be performed at two events this July. Commissioned by Apartment House and funded by the Ernst von Siemens Foundation and the Hinrichsen Foundation, the piece will serve as a companion to a performance of John Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra, a piece originally composed between 1957–1958 and without a traditional score. Wolff's composition, Resistance, has been written for a “pianist and ten or more instruments”, and said to question the nature of the ensemble.

Resistance will be premiered on 1 July at Clothworkers Hall, Leeds, whilst Thirty Three Thirty Three will host a night with the two performances at St. John at Hackney in London. Both events will feature UK ensemble Apartment House, Philip Thomas on piano and Jack Sheen on conductor.