Monthly Archives: December 2011

I can’t resist adding Anthony Braxton to this series. I discovered his music at the Princeton Record Exchange in the mid-1980s, I lived about a half hour away and I’d run down there in search of inexpensive new discoveries at least once a week. At one point, I started buying the Braxton Arista albums real cheap on vinyl…I still have ’em and eventually accumulated quite a collection of his recordings.

The cut to have here is 23c from the same album, but I can’t find it on youtube.


From “Five Pieces” (1975)

Anthony Braxton – Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Dave Holland – Bass
Barry Altschul – Drums
Kenny Wheeler – Trumpet


Fourth track from Sam River’s “Dimensions and Extensions” album. Recorded on March 17, 1967 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Sam Rivers (flute); James Spaulding (flute); Cecil McBee (bass); Steve Ellington (drums).

Jim Cole and Spectral Voices

The harmonic singing technique used here is similar to Tibetan, Mongolian and Tuvan harmonic overtone singing. Using the naturally occurring harmonic series, the singer changes the shape of the mouth and throat to control the harmonic. This technique enables the singer to produce more than one note.
Recorded in a 120 foot tall water tower, Jim Cole and Spectral Voices continue and extend a tradition of harmonic chant as used by David Hykes and Tim Hill in the Harmonic Choir and Michel Vetter (as well as the previously mentioned Tibetan, Mongolian and Tuvans). One singer is a group, a duo is a choir. Higher harmonics sound like a second person is whistling. Sub-harmonics resemble the gruff chant of Tibetan monks. The resonant water tower adds to the direct to digital audio tape recording, a natural reverb that enhances the music.

Spectral Voices are: Jim Cole and Alan Dow with Berk “Deepak Throat” Meitzler, Sharen Baker, Sylvia Halkin and Florentin Traista. Except for a tambura on Blue India and percussion on Heartbeat to Avalon, only voices are used on this recording. No synthesizers or studio wizardry.
Of course, since we’re dealing with the harmonic series, these musicans are working with just intonation – intervals based on whole number ratios. For example, 7/4 (the seventh harmonic) or 9/8 (the ninth harmonic) are whole number ratios.
Harmonic singing is too beautiful. In all the other traditions of singing, there’s nothing like it, a true spiritual experience.

Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.

Invite the Spirit
Knitting Factory Alterknit Theater, New York, N.Y.
May 2, 1997

Soon after Sang-won Park came to America, Charles K. Noyes called and invited him to improvise together.The second time they got together, the album “Invite the Spirit” (Celluloid, 1984) was recorded with guitarist Henry Kaiser. On May 2, 1997, the group played two sets at the cozy Alterknit Theater (downstairs in the Knitting Factory) with Jim O’Rourke on guitar and prepared guitar replacing Kaiser.

Sang-won Park sang and played the kayagum, a 12 silk string Korean zither in the same family as the Chinese ching and Japanese koto. Each string had a small moveable bridge. He would pluck with one hand while bending the strings behind the bridge with his other hand. He also played two other instruments, one was a steel string version of the kayagum and the other with a bow.

Charles K. Noyes had a unique drum set. Instead of a floor tom and a bass drum, he used large one headed frameless drums that were very resonant and a shallow snare. He spent the evening abstractly hitting rims, drums and the occasional cymbal. Where has he been for the last fifteen years?

On his third gig with the band, Jim O’Rourke was the quiet member of a quiet group. Playing an acoustic flat top with an electric pickup taped into the soundhole, O’Rourke’s approach to the guitar was quite subtle. One moment plucking chords, then alterknitly attaching alligator clips, then gently rocking the guitar to set the clips bouncing on the strings, he never blotted out the rest of the band with free improv mayhem. O’Rourke is very prolific and seems to be playing everywhere and with everyone these days. Although listed in the K.F. Knotes as also playing piano and hurdy gurdy, he only played guitar during the first set.

By the way, the performance of the band was more then the sum of it’s parts.

Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.


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