Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

December 8, 2013

Bill Shute/KSE Top 27 Albums of 2013 (in no particular order)

Once again, although it’s been a horrible year in many ways and a mediocre year in many other ways, it’s been a GREAT year for the arts, both in new work in a variety of disciplines and in archival reissues/rediscoveries of earlier work, much of it unappreciated or even unreleased in its day. As far as new creations from 2013, it will take future archivists 100 years to catalog what’s been done this year…and with all the micro-editions and unique art-editions and the proliferation of formats for artworks of all kinds and the ephemeral creations such as installations, the depth and breadth of what’s been created in 2013 is stunning…and the archival presentations of past works have never been more thoughtfully and beautifully presented. There has been a lot to discover and to appreciate this year.

Of the hundreds upon hundreds of new cd/cassette/cdr/vinyl releases I’ve enjoyed in 2013, here are the 27 that I would most recommend…ranging from 20’s jazz to 20th century composers to 60’s garage bands to free-improv/free-jazz to a solo album by an ex-Ellingtonian to Jandek’s 9-cd set of solo piano to a 4-cd box of “old-time” music from late 1920’s Tennessee to cassettes from contemporary noise/drone/improv masters to Los Angeles R&B of the late 40’s to a Henry Mancini soundtrack and much much more…thanks to all the artists and labels listed below for making this such a great year.

THESE ARE NOT IN ANY ORDER…they are all FIRST in my book…

1. KEITH ROWE/GRAHAM LAMBKIN, “Making A” (Erstwhile, cd, US)


2. various artists, “Oklahoma Rocks, Volume 14: The ‘Ruff’ Label” (no label, cdr, US)

ruff records

3. various artists, “Beating The Petrillo Ban: The Late December 1947 ‘Modern’ Sessions” (ACE, 2-cd set, UK)


4. ANGELICA SANCHEZ/WADADA LEO SMITH, “Twine Forest” (Clean Feed, cd, Portugal)


5. various artists, “Book A Trip 2: More Psych-pop Sounds of Capitol Records” (Now Sounds, cd, UK)

book a trip 2

6. JEF GILSON, “Archives” (Jazzman, cd, UK)


7. ALFRED 23 HARTH, “As Yves Drew A Line. Estate.” (Re-Records, cd, Hong Kong)

a23h a

8. various artists, “The Johnson City Sessions, 1928-1929” (Bear Family, 4-cd box, Germany)


9. WALT DICKERSON QUARTET, “The Complete New Jazz Recordings” (Solar, 2-cd, EU)


10. SMOKEY EMERY, “Quartz” (Indian Queen, vinyl EP, US)


11. BARRY ALTSCHUL, “The 3Dom Factor” (Tum, cd, Finland)


12. JIMMY LYTELL, “The Complete Pathe Recordings, 1926-1928” (Jazz Oracle, CD, Canada)


13. DEREK ROGERS, “Don’t Stop Bereaving” (Bridgetown, cassette, US)

derek dont

14. SIMONE MANCUSO, “John Cage–Works For Percussion” (Stradivarius, CD, Italy)


15. JANDEK, “The Song of Morgan” (Corwood, 9-cd box, US)

song of morgan three

16. HENRY MANCINI, “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, THE WHITE DAWN” (Intrada, CD, US)


17. BROTHER JOHN RYDGREN, “Silhouette Segments” (Omni, 2-cd, Australia)


18. various artists, “Long-Lost Honkers & Twangers” (Ace, CD, UK)


19. FOSSILS, “Brainville” (Banned Productions, cassette, Canada)

fossils tape

20. THE CHICO HAMILTON QUARTET featuring CHARLES LLOYD, “A Different Journey” (WEA International, CD, Japan)

Chico Hamilton - A Different Journey (Front)

21. ANTON HEYBOER, “Rules Of The Universe” (Kye, 2-LP set, US)


22. HAROLD ASHBY QUARTET, “Harold Ashby Quartet” (Progressive, cd, US)


23. VALES, “Boreal Head Trip” (Skell, cassette, US)


24. JANDEK, “Athens Saturday” (Corwood, 2-cd set, US)

JANDEK  athens saturday

25. BOB DYLAN, “Another Self-Portrait, 1969-1971: The Bootleg Series, Volume 10” (Colunbia, 2-cd set, US)


26. various artists (Huey Meaux productions), “South Texas Rhythm ‘n’ Soul Revue” (Ace, cd, UK)

south texas

27. GREG “STACKHOUSE” PREVOST, “Mississippi Murderer” (Mean Disposition, LP, Spain)

greg prevost

July 9, 2013

Jandek, “The Song of Morgan” (Corwood 0811, nine-cd box set)

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“The Song of Morgan” (Corwood 0811)

nine-cd box set of solo piano (studio) performances

$32.00 US postpaid/ $33.0o outside US from

song of morgan two

Now that I’ve had a chance to listen to all nine discs of the new Jandek solo piano box set, THE SONG OF MORGAN, I wanted to get a brief review up.  This release has generated a lot of interest and discussion, and while someone should (and surely will) do a more in-depth and analytical discussion of the set disc-by-disc, I can provide a general commentary on the topography of the set now that I’ve flown over the entire territory.

Jandek has been moving more into instrumental music with some of his recent studio releases; however,  since we do not know if these albums come out in recording order, and we do not know what unreleased sessions may have been recorded between what’s released, I’m hesitant to see any trend here, except that the Representative From Corwood is finding enjoyment in exploring the possibilities of the music half of the Jandek project. After all, he’s entitled to do that. His collected lyrics (and I’m not even counting the live shows) would probably fill a 500-page poetry book, so there’s a huge body of diverse work there to explore.

I’ve spent a lot of time with the Helsinki Saturday album (Corwood 796, and still available), recorded live in Finland and featuring Jandek’s piano with harp accompaniment, and that beautiful album brings to mind the work of Erik Satie for many, a minimal yet playful piano music that stays within well-defined parameters but is quite expressive within those self-imposed boundaries. There is some of that on the nine discs of The Song of  Morgan, particularly on Disc One, but as we move through the collection, there is a much broader dynamic range here.

Chopin would seem to be the main touchstone  (and I did not even make the “Nocturne” connection until I googled Chopin to brush up on his work before writing this), and I’m also reminded during some passages of 19th Century American parlor music,  but this is not music constructed in the manner of a Chopin…or even in the manner of a John Cage or a Morton Feldman. As always, I have the feeling that, like his guitar-based music, Jandek’s is a pure creation, NOT an imitation or composite of “influences.”

As I listen to these nine pieces, each one clocking in at around an hour, I am hearing a series of “piano explorations”….it’s as if the performer sits down at the piano, begins developing a phrase, plays around with it while gradually making his way up or down the keyboard, and evolves into a related passage, taking that in a new direction and seeing where it goes, etc.  The method reminds me of a pianistic “walk in the woods,” stopping to explore some areas in more detail, slowing down the pace here, speeding up the pace there, observing a gentle stream, pulling back and taking a view of a massive vista. But not winding up where he began…not working in a THEME–DEVELOPMENT AND VARIATIONS ON THEME AND MOTIFS–THEME format. What I’m reminded of most, actually, is the way Gertrude Stein will develop one of her texts such as “If I Told Him,” where she’ll repeat a phrase with some slight changes, then introduce a new word or two, and then follow the possibilities of that new combination, then add some new elements into the mix, and keep doing that and seeing where the textual journey takes her. If you can imagine a musical journey similar to that, played by someone who respects the classical piano traditions of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, but who comes to the piano with an outsider’s fresh eye, then maybe you have some idea of what you’ll be getting here.

Just imagine The Representative From Corwood in some dimly-lit practice room in some dimly-lit back hall on a Sunday morning in the recesses of the music department of a university, no one else around, and we hear his unhurried “explorations” spilling out into  the hall, the performer performing only for himself, not aware of any listeners, just exploring for his own sense of discovery.

Not all of the nine albums consist of one uninterrupted piece. At least two of them (4 and 8 and 9?) have more than one section separated by a pause, and I’m not sure if these consist of separate pieces presented together or are simply pauses during the session as The Representative From Corwood decides to start anew in different territory.

There is a good amount of stylistic variety within the parameters of the Jandek piano method—for instance, Disc 8 contains a dissonant section about 2/3 of the way through that could come from a Cecil Taylor album–and parts of Disc 9, from a distance at least, have the “sound” of Chopin-style elegant piano music. Disc 9 is also presented in separate–and thematically quite distinct–sections…and it ends in a dramatic fashion, as you’d expect such a piece to end. You could probably slip Disc 9 on at a party, and anyone who wasn’t a music student would not notice anything odd about the music being played.

So my description of this album would be to call it “improvised non-traditional piano explorations on a VERY large canvas.”  It is beautiful to listen to, intellectually interesting, and contains/evokes a rich set of emotions. Should you buy this? Hey, if you’ve  read this far, clearly you are enough of a Jandek person to want to explore the set on your own. And at less than $4 a disc, how can you go wrong? Take a date out to a movie on a Friday night and SPLIT a drink and a box of popcorn, and you’ve spent more than what this massive set will cost you.

This album was a dramatic move for Corwood, and I’d have to call it an unqualified success. It’s Jandek’s version of Keith Jarrett’s THE SUN BEAR CONCERTS. It’s an album that people will be talking about in 20 years. It’s epic…and it’s great listening. In fact, this and MAZE OF THE PHANTOM would be excellent entryways into Jandek’s art for the novice.

I may add more to this review after further listening and study, but really, you should come to your own conclusion. I just hope that you’ll take the plunge and get your own copy…

Oh, one final comment. Jandek performed a very well received solo piano concert in Oporto, Portugal on January 10, 2009.  As a fan of the Helsinki album, I asked Corwood if the Oporto show had been recorded. Yes it had, Corwood replied.  So when we reach January 2009 in the gradual release schedule of Jandek live shows, perhaps we’ll be treated to ANOTHER solo piano recital…

song of morgan three

song of morgan

June 16, 2009

KSE #138, THE STUMBLE, now available

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      now available:  KSE #138

the stumble


BILL  SHUTE, “THE STUMBLE” (sound library series, volume 44)

That I would eventually do a sound library volume inspired by a Jandek album was inevitable. After all, I’ve been listening to Jandek albums for almost 25 years (Byron Coley and Chris Stigliano turned me onto his work around 1984-85), his work has been a huge influence on my own, and his label Corwood Industries was the main influence on the business model of Kendra Steiner Editions. Hearing the struggle and the search-for-meaning and search-for-fulfillment found in each of those many Jandek albums, I’ve felt like his work has been a constant series of dispatches from a fellow traveler on life’s highway. And his constant experiments with form and texture and persona are endlessly fascinating and an inspiration to any artist interested in breaking beyond established barriers. So here is my dispatch from Texas 2009, growing out of the soil of repeated listenings to the wonderful 2003 album THE PLACE (Corwood CD 0772). Penned dogs are barking at anything that moves; led by the nose by a sensationalistic and science-ignorant media, the public is going crazy about the swine flu; people are living vicariously through chatrooms and false online personas; men and women are doing their fourth tours in the Army of occupation in Iraq; used cars are washed and polished for any remaining customers; metal dinosaur birds are blocking the sun; and that affair with the married woman is coming to an end as the all-night jazz radio plays so low in the background it becomes musical homeopathy. It’s a personal stumble, and it’s a national stumble…but we’ll get our balance upon this wobbly rock …somehow… someday…

hand-assembled, hand-numbered edition of 89 copies, of which we’ve already moved 27.  issued with the blessing of Corwood Industries (long-time KSE readers).

Cost is $4.00 each or 3 for $10.00 (only one copy of any book per customer) postpaid in North America. Send a check (or well-concealed cash) made payable to Bill Shute, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. #350, San Antonio, Texas, 78247. OR chapbooks are available to overseas readers DIRECT FROM KSE postpaid outside of North America for only $5 each. Overseas orders should write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com and request a paypal invoice for whatever you’d like.

Why not get the 3-for-10 deal and choose THE STUMBLE as one of your selections.  Here’s what’s available now from KSE:

#134, RONALD BAATZ, headlights from the otherside of the world ;

#135,  BILL SHUTE, stereo action (sound library series, volume 42) ;

#130,  MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, odd years ;

#126,  MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH, grey rage (dyed) ;

#127,  BRAD KOHLER, dog nights, dog days ;

#133,  BILL SHUTE, this day without (sound library series, volume 41) ;

#131,  BILL SHUTE, acres (sound library series, volume 40) ;

#129,  MIRA HORVICH / BILL  SHUTE, suspension ;

#119,  A. J. KAUFMANN, satori in berlin (x-berg songs) ;


#116,  MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, next exit: ten ;

#34,  STUART CRUTCHFIELD, shack simple (reprint).

and next week we’ll be rolling out Aleathia Drehmer’s poetry-photography chapbook CIRCLES. watch for that!

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