20121228

2012: A Newel's Retort



Portrait by Lisa Ferber

We’ve always liked the phrase avoir l'esprit de l'escalier – it so nicely captures the moment, walking down the stairs after having left the party, when you think of the clever thing you should have said when you were still there. It makes us imagine that the staircase has some special power: It’s on the steps that we become our sharpest and most aware.

Escalators are an entirely different thing: contemplative, observant. When else do you move at a diagonal not of your own volition? Elevators are purely functional, escalators sublime, but stairs bring mind and body together. The task of climbing or descending the stairs – not so simple that it can be entirely ignored – causes us to become attuned. And then we think of that perfect witticism: “Ah, yes, well, what’s good for the goose is good for Furtwängler!”

We wonder, then, if the stairwell itself ever has anything amusing to offer, if the newel ever whispers to the banister, once the passerby has passed, that “The purse of his notoriety must be stitched with waxen thread.” (The humor embedded in such wry commentary is, of course, lost without context but saving for a lack of time we must proceed here and in good faith.) Ah, we think we’re so clever, but what if it proved to be our fixtures and appliances who had the last laughs (or is that “lauves”?)?

The end-of-year letter listing one’s accomplishments is, perhaps, a streamlined and immodest way of making good on the avoir l'esprits de l'escalier (not in a literal sense, of course, but more in a vague sense as we are at our mother’s house in western Tennessee and have neither the time nor the concentration to quite make sense) of the year coming to close. It is an opportunity to present ourselves as if everything we did followed some greater schemata, to affix an agenda and leave out our own crushingly miserable failures.
And so it is that here we have our 2012 Newel’s Retort, a chance to overlook our own penny-pinching episodes, our crises of faith and soul-wrenching weeks of self-doubt. We paint a portrait, a self-portrait, metaphorically of course, of ourselves as not only productive but fascinating. Not entirely dissimilar, perhaps, from the lovely portrait of our founder painted by Miss Lisa Ferber and rendered at the head of this communique. 

We fear that this meandering preamble might prove to be more interesting than the actual content being promoted which is to follow. If that be the case, so be it! Let us know and we will devote 2013 (or the balance thereof upon notification) with preambles and permutations, leaving the actual actualities inactualized.

And so, until further ado be requested:

We at Kurt were excited to present our second volume of words that aren’t necessarily true. Words, of course, do not have truth value, but sentences do and Sentences is a book of sentences unhinged from truth value, context or even lateral motion. It is shaped in a pleasing parallelogram and is available through the SpearmintLit page at Lulu.

Also at Lulu until we take it down which we suspect we haven’t yet done is a Christmas story with the given title “Amore” (which in truth was posted last year at Red Lemonade). We have been working on a volume of holiday stories and have made the unilateral decision to start offering some of them at calendrically-appropriate moments. Watch in February for the next issuance, “The St. Valentine’s Day Mackerel.”

And on the front of writing of untruths (and we do meanwhile continue our efforts in writing – or at least our efforts in trying to write – truths about odd and fancy musical artists in various paper and pixel outlets), we have been very excited to undertake the writing of a theatrical production, which will be presented at Dixon Place Theatre in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan, New York City on February 16, 2013 CE. It is a dismal one-act farce based on the Buddy Zinn stories in the book Little Apples, which was written by Kurt Gottschalk (which is us) and is also available through Lulu. But you knew that.

Another ongoing venture which we pursue with enthusiasm, fear, vigor, and a fairly transparent over-compensation for a lacking of confidence is the making of if not music then certainly sound which we are pleased when people are patient about. Details of 2012 soundmaking are henceforthwith offered.

Ecstasy Mule, a duo comprised of Len “Thirty-Seven” Siegfried and our own me, lunged itself belatedly into the digital age with both a Bandcamp page (for older releases on our Batterrie Records and a new digital 7” single which can be heard via an embedded hearing mechanism below) and a SoundCloud page, where you can find their new release The Ballad of Rice Cooker and the SpectralLarvae. It is also the case that we have launched a SoundCloud page for other audio ephemera created or collected by us, that being me.



There at the latter you can also find should you be inclined a recording of “Radio Music for John Cage,” a piece I constructed for Free103point9’s “100 Hours for John Cage” broadcast tribute and performed by a crack team of my fellow WFMU DJs. 


Ecstasy Mule performed another Cage tribute, entitled “Ecstasy Mule vs John Cage vs Ecstasy Mule” at the Stone in Alphabet City and the GreenLine Café in Philadelphia City. In February we expect to do it again, or not do it, in Brooklyn Heights, on which occasion the entire audience will be asked to perform the piece while we sit and listen.

And indeed and for that matter we were happy for the opportunity to work again with Loren Connors and Suzanne Langille, conceiving, producing and even writing a little story for their 7" and CD I Wish I Didn't Dream, a set of improvised songs to the paintings of MP Landis, available through Northern-Spy Records. And on that count, we were pleased also to write liner notes for a new release by Joëlle Leandre and Jérôme Bourdellon on Relative Pitch.



Lastly, we would like to announce the launching of a new blog for the coming year. We have received great joy at our central office listening to doo wop during the past year and have decided to share our discoveries via a Tumblr page. Please visit Toowop Duesday every single week for a new, old harmonic treasure. It will suspend operation on Dec. 31, 2013, at which time we will write you another letter. And of course, you can meet me on WFMU every Friday from 3 to 6 pm. 

20121205

A Christmas Story


I've been working on a collection of holiday-themed stories which I hope to have done sometime in 2013. It's a fun challenge. Holidays are so loaded with emotions and iconography that there's a lot to work with and even more to avoid! 

I've decided I'll make some of them available through the coming year at seasonally appropriate moments, the first one being "Amore," my Christmas story. Some of you may have seen this last year when it was posted at Red Lemonade, but now it's up at Lulu as a PDF with a monotone cover for a mere $2. 

Some of the holiday stories I've written so far are a bit racy, even vulgar! Some are actually kinda sweet and sentimental. This one I like a lot. It's kinda sad, I guess, but I like it. Maybe you would, too. 

If you're so inclined, you can find it here.

20121115

19 Old Albums

The WFMU old bin is one of the islands of discovery in our amazing record library. Music Director Brian Turner has decided to start having individual DJs "curate" the bin, selecting some old albums to share with other DJs and, in turn, with listeners. I'm glad to be the first DJ to make the old bin anew. 

One thing I really liked about this was that it isn't any kind of "best" anything list. There's not even a prescribed number of albums to be included. It's just some stuff you want to share, so I thought I'd share it here too.


Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington (1955)
Thelonious Monk was more popular among critics than record buyers in the mid 1950s. His releases on Prestige had gained some attention but were not big sellers. Nevertheless, Riverside saw something in him and bought his contract for $100. Monk would make his best records on Riverside, but the label began the relationship cautiously. Rather than letting him make another record of his own “difficult” compositions, they forced him into two records of other composers’ material: Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington and the unintentionally ironically titled The Unique Thelonious Monk. They weren’t big sellers either, but did establish him as a great pianist, something that was somehow in doubt. They weren’t his best records either, but hearing Monk interpret Ellington is still a wonderful meeting of minds. It’s worth noting that Ellington wasn’t on top of the world at that time either. Big Band music had fallen out of favor, but the following year he would return to the top of the heap when his 1956 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival (and the stellar subsequent live record) landed him on the cover of Time magazine.
FILE UNDER: Geniuses of Modern Jazz
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 3, 4, 5, 7, 8

Rev. Gary Davis – The Sun of Our Life (1955-57)
Rev. Gary Davis was one of the greats of the Southeastern Piedmont Blues style of fingerpicking. (His “Lord, I Wish I Could See” is paralyzing.) But these home recordings, unissued until 30 years after his death, show him in a fantastic improvisatory mode that doesn't seem to come up anywhere else in his discography. Reminiscent of the open-form folk playing John Fahey was developing around the same time and not too far away, although I'm all but sure Fahey wouldn't have heard anything like this coming from a bluesman (read “black musician”) at the time. 
FILE UNDER: Freeform blues
Recommended Tracks: 1, 4, 6, 15-18, 19



Cecil Taylor – Love for Sale (1959)
Cecil Taylor had already released 3½ records (including a split with the Gigi Gryce / Donald Byrd Jazz Laboratory and a joint session co-led with John Coltrane) when Love for Sale came out. It’s one of the most surprising titles in Taylor’s huge discography because it’s probably the straightest record he made. But it’s no less great for it. This early in his career, Taylor was including compositions by his band members and had included the occasional title by Monk or Ellington. But here he did a full side of Cole Porter tunes and even had a pulp paperback album cover! The three Porter tunes are fantastic, deep and exploratory but still in the pocket. On the flipside he adds two horns (including the recently departed Ted Curson) to the piano trio lineup and you can start to hear the compositing strategies that would become fixed around Unit Structures. An unusual and largely overlooked album by Taylor and one of only a handful he did for Blue Note.
FILE UNDER: Avant Jazz Revisionaries
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 3, 4, 5

John Coltrane – Expression (1967)
In February of 1967, five months before his death, John Coltrane recorded three albums. The landmark Interstellar Space (a session with Rashied Ali that set the standard for sax/drum duets), Stellar Regions (a quartet set not released until 1995) and Expression, recorded during the same sessions as Stellar Regions except for the title track which was Coltrane’s last time in the studio. The record is often overlooked, almost as if recognizing it would disprove something to the generations of free jazz blowers who followed. It’s a beautiful, serene record, very different from the fiery improvisations he’d been doing for the few years prior and including “To Be,” his only track recorded on flute exclusively. One can imagine the more subdued nature of the record as being a sort of facing death. Few people knew of Coltrane’s liver cancer at the time, and there’s some dispute about what sort of treatment he was receiving or even what the actual diagnosis was, but it might be heard as a reaction to physical weakness or as a meditation on mortality. Regardless, it’s a wonderful record that suggests Coltrane might have continued to explore other areas in free jazz had he lived, rather than holding fast to the full-on attack.
FILE UNDER: Avant Jazz Visionaries
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 2, 3, 4

Art Ensemble of Chicago with Muhal Richard Abrams – Fanfare for the Warriors (1973)
The Art Ensemble of Chicago has rarely worked with a pianist – perhaps only Don Pullen and Cecil Taylor and on this album Muhal Richard Abrams, the leader of the Experimental Band where most of the members of the Art Ensemble first came together. Fanfare for the Warriors isn’t the only record the Art Ensemble made with Abrams but it’s the most diverse. As opposed to the album-length improvisation of the following year’s Kabalaba, here they are in a studio session playing distinct tracks, including the Mingus-swing of “Barnyard Scuffle Shuffle” and a great take on the labyrinthine “Noonah,” a composition Art Ensemble founder Roscoe Mitchell has recorded many times, plus a rare composition by bassist Malachi Favors.
FILE UNDER: Great Black Music
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 2, 3, 4

Sleepy John Estes with Hammie Nixon – On Highway 80 (1974)
While Sleepy John Estes comes from just up the road from my Tennessee kin, the selling point of this record is Hammie Nixon’s kazoo. They’re Mississippi River people, born and raised 75 miles or so from Memphis, but there’s a jazzy Piedmont blues feel to the best cuts here, like their version of “You Rascal You” (called “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead”).  When Hammie switches to harp, they hit a Sonny & Terry vibe. It’s a nicely laid-back session with some good gospel tunes and a couple brief conversations between them.
FILE UNDER: Tennessee Flat-Top Blues
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 17

John Lee Hooker – Hooker Alone (1976)
This record is almost completely overlooked in Hooker biographies and discographies, maybe because he sabotaged his own set. What few mentions of it I've found say that either he was pissed off at the promoter or that he was sick and guzzling cough syrup. I'd like to think he'd just decided to experiment with some minimalist blues, but the fact that he doesn't seem to have ever played like this again means there was probably something else going on. Nevertheless, it's a remarkably slow and deep show. Tomato eventually issued two more volumes (the second set of that night and then a recording at a reception after the show) all of which show him in this weird, almost catatonic state.
FILE UNDER: One Bar Blues
RECOMMENDED Tracks: 2, 3, 4, 7


Anthony Braxton – Creative Orchestra Music 1976 (1976)
Anthony Braxton rushed through his contract with Arista as if he knew someone would pull the plug if they found out how he was spending the label’s money. He worked furiously to release nine albums on the label in six years (while releasing a number of titles on other labels), using major label resources to record a piece for four orchestras as well as booking a 22-piece big band (with Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Frederic Rzewski, Leo Smith, Richard Teitelbaum and Kenny Wheeler) to play his wonderfully unusual marching band music. This is already a WFMU favorite, but it’s worth giving it another bump.
FILE UNDER: Creative Orchestra Jazz
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:  2, 3, 4,

Lester Bowie – African Children (1978)
The way the story goes, in 1977, following an Art Ensemble of Chicago European tour, trumpeter Lester Bowie headed for Nigeria with nothing but the name “Fela,” suggested to him by Randy Weston as someone to try to locate. The tour had earned him little money and he had just enough for a cab, a meal and a hotel. The next morning he got in a cab and said “Take me to Fela.” The driver knew where to take him, Bowie played along with a blues record as an audition and Fela had him move into the communal house. Bowie stayed for three months and can be heard on a number of Fela’s records (Black President, Perambulator, No Agreement, Buy America, Sorrow Tears and Blood, Fear Not For Man) and Bowie later recorded Fela’s “Zombie” with the Art Ensemble. After leaving Fela’s compound, Bowie put together a new quintet that recorded The 5th Power for Black Saint and African Children for Horo, the latter of which has never been reissued. Side 4 of the double LP was taken up with the track “For Fela,” a dedication to his Bowie’s Nigerian friend.
FILE UNDER: Great Black Afrobeat Music
Recommended Tracks: 2, 4, 5

The Slits – Bootleg Retrospective (1980)
The Slits recorded this album prior to their official debut, the amazing punky reggae party Cut. An advance from Island Records would allow them to spend time in the studio and to hire producer dub Dennis Bovell), so rather than jeopardize the relationship with Island they handed the masters off to their friends the Pop Group to release on their Y Records on the condition that it be released as a bootleg. It came in a plain white sleeve with the “Y” label visible but no clear title so it has come to be known as Y, Y3LP (the catalog number), Official Bootleg or even Once Upon a Time in a Living Room or  A Boring Life (the last title probably dreamed up by Greil Marcus). It’s not like anything else they released – it shows the raw energy of their live shows, but it also has the experimental spirit they would show on their later albums (although without a producer to polish it up pretty). “Face Place” and “Or Was It?” showed up in more finished form on Return of the Giant Slits and a bit of “Bongos on the Lawn” is heard at the beginning of the video for “Instant Hit” from Cut.
FILE UNDER: British Anarcho Estrogen Punk
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 5, 7, 10


The Specials – More Specials (1980)
The Specials self-titled debut remains the greatest thing to come out of any wave of ska after the first. It defined the movement in England so much that people seem to have forgotten that the album was mostly cover versions. When keyboardist and band founder Jerry Dammers decided to define the band and push original compositions, he turned to Muzak and roller rink music for inspiration, or seemed to anyway. The album hit #5 on the UK charts and had three Top Ten singles and the album and the single “Rat Race” even dented the US charts, but it was reviled in some circles and is largely ignored these days.  Dammers was drummed out of the band (although less over artistic than financial squabbles), but in hindsight he was the one with the foresight to know that you don’t lead a movement by standing still. He wasn’t invited to be a part of the band’s reunion tour a few years ago, but on an artistic level is continuing to be the inspired one: his Spatial AKA Arkestra is a 40-piece band (as yet unrecorded) doing all Specials and Sun Ra charts.
FILE UNDER: Backbeat Visionaries
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 11


Meat Joy – Meat Joy (1984)
Meat Joy was Gretchen Phillips’ first band with Jamie Lee Hendrix, Melissa Cobb Unit, Tim Pierre Mateer and John Hawkes (under the name John Boy Perkins, and who later appeared in the TV show Deadwood under the name John Marvin Parks).There were rumors that Gibby and Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers were on the album which is probably not true but it explains part of their Texas tripped punk sound. This is some deeply weird and personal stuff. There’s some sweet lesbian heartbroken pop ballads (“Another Pair,” “My Heart Crawls Off”), a dirgey punk song about anorexia (“Slenderella”), a dirgey anti-punk song (“Proud to Be Stupid”) a strangely sympathetic song about misperceptions of Christ (“Matthew 10:36”) some crazy sound collage and even a suicide ending. The album was released with unique handmade covers – the band even used to have fans help them design and make t-shirts after gigs.
FILE UNDER: Texas Anarcho Dyke Punk
RECOMMENDED: 5, 9, 11, 15, 16
NO PLAY: 2, 6, 8, 14

Shelley Hirsch and Jon Rose – A Room With a View (1985)
An early record for two great outsiders who haven’t recorded together since. Jon Rose is a pretty much a mad genius of the violin, inventing not only variations on the instrument but false histories about it, but here he is heard on another of his creations, the 19-string amplified cello. It gives a richer tone to Hirsch’s scatter-consciousness singing but he’s still able to turn corners as fast as she does. Released on the Australian punk-leaning label Hot Records and never reissued.
FILE UNDER: Schlemiel Songspiel
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: A1, A6, A7, B1, B4, B7




Laurie Amat - L'amateur de la vie (1995)
Laurie Amat was the female voice for The Residents in the 1990s, appearing on the albums Freak Show, Wormwood and the brilliant and underrated God in Three Persons. In 1995 she was on tour with the band and played Prague where she crossed paths with bassoonist Lindsay Cooper (Henry Cow, the Art Bears) and a number of Czech musicians including pianist Emil Viklický, who has recorded with fellow Czechs Iva Bittova and George Mraz as well as Bill Frisell. The result was L'amateur de la vie, her first and probably only record under her name. While the identity of the members of the Residents is kept secret, it appears likely that she is the only person to work with them and Consolidated concurrently.
FILE UNDER: Chamber Rock In Opposition
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 2, 8, 10, 12

Derek and the Ruins – Saisoro (1995)
One of the greatest pairings that Tzadik executive producer John Zorn ever conceived was hooking up British free improv grandpappy Derek Bailey with Japanese punkprog duo the Ruins. It brought out the best of both sides of the band. Plugged in and backed by the high-speed propulsion of the rhythm section, Bailey is pushed to the edge. And the drum and bass duo, who hadn’t improvised on record prior to this session, are still tight and loud while being true to the spirit. While it’s technically a power trio, bassist Masuda Ryushi had been a guitarist prior to joining the band and plays in the upper register much of the time, adding to the unusual dynamics of the open-throttle album.
FILE UNDER: Improvised Instrumental Punkprog
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6




Roof – The Untraceable Cigar (1996)
New York cellist Tom Cora (Skeleton Crew, Third Person) formed the group Roof with Luc Ex (then bassist for The Ex) as a vehicle primarily for Cora’s songwriting. Vocalist Phil Minton and drummer Michael Vachter completed the band, which isn’t quite like any other group ever, avant rock that generally sticks together tightly and doesn’t sound as weird as it is if you don’t listen closely. They only made two records (this and the live follow-up Trace) before Cora’s death in 1998. After some hesitation, the band carried on playing Cora’s compositions with Veryan Weston on piano under the name “4 Walls,” later adding horns and changing their name again to “A Door and Two Windows.” Includes an interpretation of Harry Partch’s “The Letter.”
FILE UNDER: Extra Avant Pop
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 2, 4, 9


Optical*8 – Bug (1997)
Over the top avant rock from Hoppy Kamiyama (who would go on to start The Pugs and was the force-behind-the-scenes for Ex-Girl) which included Otomo Yoshihide, who would form the similarly rock-based Ground Zero before going deeper into experimental realms. Bug is like being fumigated with laughing gas and vaporized adrenaline, a fantastic distillation of the spirit of Japanese experimental rock in the ‘90s that was also being defined by Altered States, the Boredoms, Demi Semi Quaver (who’s singer, Emi Eleonola, is heard on track 6) and the Ruins, and a bit of a precursor to Afri-Rampo and ni-hao!
FILE UNDER: Asian Melodic Frenzy
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:  1, 5, 6, 7, 11

Ground Zero – Gig-Last Concert (1999)
In seven quick years, Otomo Yoshihide’s Ground Zero went from being a Boredoms-inspired fast cut punk outfit to playing heavy interpretations of Goebels and Harth, driving Roland Kirk-esque jazz interpretations and prolonged sonic experiments and intense noise, covering much of the ground Yoshihide would continue to explore in subsequent years. All of that feels distilled into the three tracks on their final concert and album. The first part of “Multi-Gravity” is an abstract, cinematic pastiche full of unexpected turns. The second half is a juxtaposition of free-jazz noise and noise-noise. In the final 40-minute track, they touch on Goebles and Harth as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim, traditional East Asian music and sine wave electronics. Stellar.
FILE UNDER: Post-Punk Classical
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1, 3

Rod Poole – December 96 (1998)
Rod Poole was an absolutely phenomenal guitarist who released a few solo albums as well as two records with the Acoustic Guitar Trio (with Nels Cline and Jim McAuley). The one 56-minute track here might not be ideal for airplay (at least not in its entirety), but December 96 is a gorgeous record. It starts with a bit of knocking about the instrument but before long he’s in his unbelievable finger-picking mode. Check the picture on the front: He often played in a flat-hand style with his thumb in front of the neck, anchoring the guitar with his right arm (I saw him do it!). His fantastic voice was silenced in 2007 after he yelled at someone driving recklessly through the parking lot of a Hollywood diner. The driver got out of the car and stabbed him to death with a steak knife. The British-born Poole was 45. His killer was sentenced to 15 years in prison the following year.
FILE UNDER: Out Folk
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1

BONUS AUDIO: "Proud to be Stupid" by Meat Joy

20121013

Minotaurs Need Love Too

Dear Friends - 

WFMU - the station where I do my weekly show Miniature Minotaurs - has had to face the fact that our annual Spring marathon doesn't support us through the year. It's been a tough issue because pretty much nobody from Station Manager Ken Freedman on down wants to do two on-air fundraisers a year. The decision was made last year to do a "silent fundraiser" in the fall, and we're doing it again this year. 

If you're not a regular listener to my show, let me take a moment to tell you what's been going on: 

Last week, I did a show of all streaming song - tracks musicians have uploaded to SoundCloud, Bandcamp, netlabels and other online outlets, without the assistance of or dependence upon record labels.
 
Yesterday my brilliant friend Ariella Stok joined me for a broadcast from the year 2022, with all tracks (besides a little Mingus and Xenakis) made exclusively by a host of talents for the broadcast. 
 
And on October 26, I'll have a live broadcast with the amazing ensemble So Percussion. Then, the following week, I'll be spinning all 7"s live on the air from the WFMU Record Fair. (I'll also have a table there Sunday, so stop by and say hi!). 

And if you are a regular listener - if you learned about a band at the feet of whom you now wish to sleep, or for that matter if you experienced a moment of thrill hearing your own music played on the air - please think about what it would be like without WFMU. I know that's a hackneyed fundraising plea - "imagine a world without ..." - but really. Our fall goals are modest; Large donations would be met with great glee of course, but small donations are welcome and perhaps more helpful than you'd guess. 

$15 will get you a happy cartoon dog bumper sticker or a bar of WFMU Miracle Soap; 

$50 will get you that plus our new t-shirt; 

$75 gets you those plus one of my past CD premiums (or any other DJ's) including last year's Radio Silence with another round of tracks made especially for the show; 

and $100 will get you all of those plus our new "War on Christmas" CD plus mega mp3 download bonus. I've been working on pulling together some great tracks for that, as have many of my freeform comrades. 

All the details can be found at the "31 Days of October" fundraising page. Pledge now through my playlist page and show your support for Miniature Minotaurs and WFMU. 

Thanks!

20120925

Some sentences for "Sentences"



Zinn's yogic axioms were victorious until these Sentences, riddling querulously, piqued our nosiness, 'My Lord! Kurt's jazz insensibilities have gazumped famous discontinuists Cage, Braxton & Ayler.

- John Bissett, guitarist, videographer, finder of art in small places


Kurt Gottschalk has been to Pompeii three times: in  1994, 2000 and 2001.

-Masterful wordmaster Alessandro Bosseti


Kurt Gottschalk's new book Sentences is an addictive treasure where the reader bounces from clever bites of wisdom to Woody-Allen-meets-Dada one-liners to gentle observations that make a person stop, digest, and get excited for the next page.

-Lisa Ferber of the infectious laugh, screenwriter, The Sisters Plotz


Quirky, humorous, occasionally whimsical and often thought provoking, [Sentences] is both a quick and slow page turner simultaneously, meant in a good way.

- Len37, Ecstasy Mule, unassailably affable


Sentences by Kurt Gottschalk is like the horizon it is everything there is in one line. All the joy, all the couriousity, all the pain, it is written in both techicolor and black in white at the same time

- William Parker, bassist, composer, perma-twinkle in eye


Aphorisms, spoonerisms, single sentence novels, an encyclopedia of the ineffable - great stuff (and very educational).

- Marc Ribot, ace guitar provocateur


Kurt Gottschalk plunges bravely into that shape-shifting beast known as the sentence, and he emerges with this beautiful book that provides just as many questions as answers, and takes the reader on an intelligent journey through a joyful mix of words that all come to the same inevitable end: the period.

-Florence Wetzel, author, inspiration from afar


David wasn't sure whether the sentences were meant to be served consecutively or concurrently but secretly hoped it was the latter.

- David Wilson, Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews, brother in arms


Sentences and my previous book, Little Apples, are both available at Lulu.




20120915

Talk Radio for John Cage

Talk Radio for John Cage is a piece conceived by Kurt Gottschalk for free103point9's "120 Hours for John Cage" broadcast marathon. The piece tribute both to Cage’s groundbreaking use of indeterminacy and chance operation in the composing as well as his use of radios in place of musical instruments. It is structured after Cage's groundbreaking composition "Radio Music," replacing the radio parts with published texts about Cage's use of radios. It was performed by WFMU DJs Bronwyn C., Dave Mandl, Mary Wing, Meghan McKee, Rich Hazelton, Scott Williams and Tamar. Recording engineered by Scott K and Mark Koch. Graphic by Emma Ball.



20120901

Freshly Revised Revisions



Sept  2, 1 a.m. 
Sept 12, 1 a.m.

Sept 15, 12 p.m.
Talk Radio for John Cage
WGXC-FM
free103point9 and the John Cage Trust present 120 Hours for John Cage in conjunction with a staggering array of events celebrating the John Cage Centennial in 2012.  Featured works will be broadcast on free103point9's FM radio station WGXC 90.7-FM in upstate New York (wgxc.org), and streamed online throughout a month-long program September 2012. Among the projects selected from an open call, which originate from twelve countries, is The WFMU Hoof'n'Mouth Tabernacle Choir featuring 7 WFMU DJs (Bronwyn C., Dave Mandl, Mary Wing, Meghan McKee, Rich Hazelton, Scott Williams and Tamar and engineered by Scott K and Mike Koch} performing Kurt Gottschalk'sTalk Radio for John Cage. For more information visit free103point9.org
For even more info, look here

I also played in John McDonough's Landscape Under Construction, which will be broadcast Sept. 1 at 8 pm, Sept. 6 at 3 a.m. and Sept. 22 at 1 a.m.
Full Schedule here.

Lovely Cage graphic by Emma Ball


Sept 2, 6 p.m.Meeting of Capitalists, Inc. 
Hosted by rahrahree!
Meeting of Capitalists Inc. to Mark the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of John Milton Cage, Jr., Hosted by rahrahree! (Kurt Gottschalk and Tamara Yadao): With "Lecture on Nothing" and "Theatre Piece"; please bring 100 records to break during the session.
Downtown Music Gallery
13 Monroe St., NYC
Admission: 100 pieces of recorded media which you will destroy during the session.
(Reduced admission rates available.)

See it on Facebook


Sept 5, 12 p.m.

Read a Text by John Cage Aloud at Noon Wherever You Are
See it on Facebook


Sept 6, 8 p.m.

Ecstasy Mule vs John Cage vs Ecstasy Mule
CAGE100, curated by Miguel Frasconi
Ecstasy Mule vs. John Cage vs. Ecstasy Mule is a game of luck in which there will be a winner. It is an aleatoric piece as opposed to an indeterminate one, using elements of the Cage compositions Indeterminacy, Music Walk, Water Walk, 4'33", Variation #1, Imaginary Landscape #5 and Radio Music, as well as some other chance determined sound sourcings. It was created in response to a request by Miguel Frasconi for a chamber-music-from-another-planet take on Cage, like watching two friends (in this instance Kurt Gottschalk and Len Siegfried) in their living room playing music they can't help but play.
The Stone, E. 2nd St. and Ave. C, Manhattan
$10
See it on Facebook


Sept 7, 3-6 p.m.
Members of the International Contemporary Ensemble on Miniature Minotaurs with Kurt Gottschalk
Guitarist Dan Lippel and percussionist Nathan Davis of the International Contemporary Ensemble will stop by to discuss the important and fascinating relationship between Pierre Boulez and John Cage, two very different composers with great respect for each other, and to perform pieces by each in anticipation of ICE's Sept. 20 Boulez / Cage concert at Miller Theater on the campus of Columbia University. Over the 11 years of its existence, ICE has become one of the most exciting new music groups around. The ensemble has premiered over 500 compositions in venues ranging from New York’s Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art to galleries, bars, clubs, and schools around the world. 


Sept 14th, 3-6 p.m.
Composer/Conductor Petr Kotik and Composer Bunita Marcus on Minitature Minotaurs with Kurt Gottschalk
Petr Kotik first met John Cage when he was living in Czechoslovakia more than five decades ago. He worked with the famed composer/philosopher extensively after moving to America in 1969, premiered some of Cage’s works and organized a concert at Carnegie Hall for Cage's 80th birthday. Sadly the honoree died just months before the event. Kotik is now restaging that birthday concert as a part of his "Beyond Cage" festival.Marcus, born in Madison, Wisconsin, was a recognized pianist and bass clarinetist when she began composing at the age of thirteen. She has worked in both electronic and instrumental mediums and received a Ph.D. in Composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1981. Marcus met Morton Feldman in 1976, beginning a long association that lasted until his death in 1987. Feldman and Marcus composed side by side, sharing musical thoughts and ideas. In 1985 Feldman dedicated his new piano composition For Bunita MarcusThey will stop by to discuss the much beloved and misunderstood Cage, his longtime associate Feldman, and to play some of his favorite Cage (and beyond) recordings. 


and then,
Dec 2
Ecstasy Mule vs John Cage vs Ecstasy Mule
RIPRIG at Clave
4305 Locust Street
Philadelphia

20120825

Updated Updates (Now With Radio!)

Sept 1
Landscape Under Construction on WGXC
WGXC-FM
Recording of John McDonough's piece broadcast during the 120 Hours for John Cage marathon (I was a part of the boombox ensemble).
8 pm
Full Schedule here


Sept  2
Meeting of Capitalists, Inc. 
Hosted by rahrahree!
Meeting of Capitalists Inc. to Mark the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of John Milton Cage, Jr., Hosted by rahrahree! (Kurt Gottschalk and Tamara Yadao): With "Lecture on Nothing" and "Theatre Piece"; please bring 100 records to break during the session.
Downtown Music Gallery
13 Monroe St., NYC
6 pm, Admission: 100 pieces of recorded media which you will destroy during the session.
(Reduced admission rates available.)
See it on Facebook

Sept 5
Read a Text by John Cage Aloud at Noon Wherever You Are
12 pm
See it on Facebook

Sept 6
Ecstasy Mule vs John Cage vs Ecstasy Mule
CAGE100, curated by Miguel Frasconi
Ecstasy Mule vs. John Cage vs. Ecstasy Mule is a game of luck in which there will be a winner. It is an aleatoric piece as opposed to an indeterminate one, using elements of the Cage compositions Indeterminacy, Music Walk, Water Walk, 4'33", Variation #1, Imaginary Landscape #5 and Radio Music, as well as some other chance determined sound sourcings. It was created in response to a request by Miguel Frasconi for a chamber-music-from-another-planet take on Cage, like watching two friends (in this instance Kurt Gottschalk and Len Siegfried) in their living room playing music they can't help but play.
The Stone, E. 2nd St. and Ave. C, Manhattan
8 pm, $10
See it on Facebook


Sept 7
Members of the International Contemporary Ensemble on Miniature Minotaurs with Kurt Gottschalk
Guitarist Dan Lippel and percussionist Nathan Davis of the International Contemporary Ensemble will stop by to discuss the important and fascinating relationship between Pierre Boulez and John Cage, two very different composers with great respect for each other, and to perform pieces by each in anticipation of ICE's Sept. 20 Boulez / Cage concert at Miller Theater on the campus of Columbia University. Over the 11 years of its existence, ICE has become one of the most exciting new music groups around. The ensemble has premiered over 500 compositions in venues ranging from New York’s Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art to galleries, bars, clubs, and schools around the world. 
3-6 pm 


Sept 14th
Composer/Conductor Petr Kotik and Composer Bunita Marcus on Minitature Minotaurs with Kurt Gottschalk
Petr Kotik first met John Cage when he was living in Czechoslovakia more than five decades ago. He worked with the famed composer/philosopher extensively after moving to America in 1969, premiered some of Cage’s works and organized a concert at Carnegie Hall for Cage's 80th birthday. Sadly the honoree died just months before the event. Kotik is now restaging that birthday concert as a part of his "Beyond Cage" festival.Marcus, born in Madison, Wisconsin, was a recognized pianist and bass clarinetist when she began composing at the age of thirteen. She has worked in both electronic and instrumental mediums and received a Ph.D. in Composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1981. Marcus met Morton Feldman in 1976, beginning a long association that lasted until his death in 1987. Feldman and Marcus composed side by side, sharing musical thoughts and ideas. In 1985 Feldman dedicated his new piano composition For Bunita MarcusThey will stop by to discuss the much beloved and misunderstood Cage, his longtime associate Feldman, and to play some of his favorite Cage (and beyond) recordings. 
3-6 pm



Sept 15
Talk Radio for John Cage
WGXC-FM
free103point9 and the John Cage Trust present 120 Hours for John Cage in conjunction with a staggering array of events celebrating the John Cage Centennial in 2012.  Featured works will be broadcast on free103point9's FM radio station WGXC 90.7-FM in upstate New York (wgxc.org), and streamed online throughout a month-long program September 2012. Among the projects selected from an open call, which originate from twelve countries, is The WFMU Hoof'n'Mouth Tabernacle Choir featuring 7 WFMU DJs (Bronwyn C., Dave Mandl, Mary Wing, Meghan McKee, Rich Hazelton, Scott Williams and Tamar and engineered by Scott K and Mike Koch} performing Kurt Gottschalk'sTalk Radio for John Cage. For more information visit free103point9.org
For even more info, look here
Noon
Full Schedule here.




and then,


Dec 2
Ecstasy Mule vs John Cage vs Ecstasy Mule
RIPRIG at Clave
4305 Locust Street
Philadelphia