Archive for jazz

Impressions of the ICP Orchestra, Zürich 2015

Posted in Free Jazz, Han Bennink, jazz, Photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by crownpropeller

DSC_4339(Click to enlarge) The ICP Orchestra at Rote Fabrik, Zurich,
Switzerland, October 17, 2015. Mary Oliver, Tristan
Honsinger, Ernst Glerum, Han Beninnk, Michael Moore,
Ab Baars, Wolter Wierbos (hidden), Tobias Delius (hidden) and
Thomas Heberer.  Photo by Armin Büttner

The ICP Orchestra, that famous european jazz institution founded in 1967 by drummer Han Bennink and pianist Misha Mengelberg, played in Zurich yesterday. Since I have a bad cold, I was not in the mood to fumble around with a video cam, but I took quite a few photos which turned out so nice, that I thought I’d present them here.

In it’s current incarnation – Misha Mengelberg is not able to appear on stage anymore – the ICP Orchestra consists of Han Bennink, trumpeter Thomas Heberer, trombonist Wolter Wierbos, Michael Moore (as, cl), Ab Baars (ts, cl), Tobias Delius (ts, cl), Mary Oliver (violin, viola), cellist Tristan Honsinger and bassist Ernst Glerum. The piano chair was manned by Misha Mengelbergs good friend Guss Janssen. They played a lot of  Mengelbergs compositions as well as his arrangements of pieces by Monk, Herbie Nichols and Duke Ellington, as well as pieces by band members. To make it short, it was a great evening and I was glad I went – I even had the feeling my cold had gotten better afterwards.

So here are some photos (you can always click to enlarge, they are quite big!):

DSC_4308Han Bennink at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4321Han Bennink, Michael Moore, Ab Baars, Tobias Delius at
Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4301Mary Oliver, Tristan Honsinger, Ernst Glerum at Rote Fabrik.
Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4324Michael Moore and Ab Baars at Rote Fabrik.
Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4348Mary Oliver at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

After a twenty minute intermission the second part of the evening started with about twenty minutes with a special quartet. ICP-members Bennink, Glerum and Moore were joined by Zurich based pianist Irène Schweizer (they know each other for years and years, swiss label Intakt has just released a new Cd of Schweizer/Bennink duets).

Here are some photos from that part of the evening:

DSC_4373Irène Schweizer, Ernst Glerum, Han Bennink and Michael
Moore at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4386Han Bennink and Michael
Moore at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4384Han Bennink at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4407Irène Schweizer at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

Then it was back to the ICP Orchestra again:

DSC_4428Michael Moore, Ab Baars, Tobias Delius, Wolter Wierbos and
Thomas Heberer at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4430Ernst Glerum, Mary Oliver, Han Bennink and Michael Moore
at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4453“And without further ado I present to you: absolutely nothing!”:
Tristan Honsinger at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4467Going down low: Tristan Honsinger and Wolter Wierbos at
Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4471And up: Tristan Honsinger in the air at Rote Fabrik.
Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4476Guss Janssen and Mary Oliver at Rote Fabrik.
Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4485Han Bennink and Ab Baars at Rote Fabrik.
Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4490Han Bennink, Ab Baars, Michael Moore and Tobias Delius
at Rote Fabrik. Photo by Armin Büttner

DSC_4502A quite hum for Misha Mengelberg: Han Bennink at Rote
Fabrik, Zurich, October 17, 2015.


Nestor Records (early John Coltrane musical content!)

Posted in 78 rpm, Discography, John Coltrane, R'n'B with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2015 by crownpropeller

nestor6aThis 1953 record from Philadelphia contains solos
by John Coltrane. From the Crown Propeller Collection

The John Coltrane Reference by Lewis Porter, Chris DeVito, David Wild, Yasuhiro Fujioka, Wolf Schmaler – a book you should own if you are a Coltrane fanatic – lists a probably 1953 session by Philadelphia drummer James “Coatesville” Harris that features Coltrane, done for the small Philadelphia label Nestor.

In their notes to that session the authors write: “This 78-rpm record was discovered by Swiss reserachers Otto Flückiger and Armin Büttner. (…) Coltrane is identified by aural evidence only, but we consider the evidence overwhelming. He plays throughout and solos on both tracks.”

What they write is not quite the truth though. It was not Otto Flückiger and me who made this discovery. Instead Otto and his friend the swiss jazz researcher and alto saxophonist Mario Schneeberger had thought that the saxophonist on Nestor 06 sounded very much like John Coltrane back in the 1960s when Otto won this record for a dollar or two in an auction. When Otto played the two tracks for me in the early 1990s, I was convinced that it’s Coltrane playing the tenor here from the first notes emanating from that horn, leading me to inform the Coltrane experts. But the claim for the discovery must go to Otto and Mario.

There is really not much known about the Nestor label which was owned by Herman “Piney” Gillespie, who at different points in time also ran the labels G&M, Piney and Teenage. Gillespie had his home base in Philadelphia, but at least Nestor moved to New York later.

The second Edition of Bob McGrath’s The R&B Indies (2006) lists nine issues on Nestor. And although I have been running a permanent ebay search for “Nestor 78rpm” since 2003, I only ever came up with one Nestor record at all (Nestor 10, incidentally not listed in the The R&B Indies).

In the hope of acquiring more information about the Nestor label (and maybe stumbling over even more Coltrane, not that I do have much hope), I decided to gather all the information that I have here, in the hope of delivering a somewhat complete list of its issues. Many thanks to Bob McGrath whose four volume work The R&B Indies is responsible for about 92 percent of this listing. Some composer credits were taken from 45rpm labels appearing on the internet. There is some music inside of this listing, some youtube clips – yes, and some Coltrane to listen to in an atomic age tenor solo!


Nestor Records – a draft

NESTOR 1 to NESTOR 5: No information

Coatesville Harris (dr, ldr), Rodney Smith (voc), John Coltrane (ts), unidentified p, g, b, d

Philadelphia, probably 1953

JG-06A     Ham Hocks And Hominy (H. Gillespie)
JG-06B     Strange Things All The Range (H. Gillespie)

(Information from Fancourt – McGrath: “The Blues Discography 1943–1970” and a copy of Nestor 6 in the Crown Propeller Collection, this record is not mentioned in the 2006 edition of The R&B Indies). Only 78 rpm copies are known.

And here is Coatesville Harris’ band with singer Rodney Smith doing “Strange Things All The Rage”. Watch out for John Coltrane!

NESTOR 7 to NESTOR 9: No information


JG-10A     The Little Black Sheep (Moore)
JG-10B     My Dream (Moore)

(Not listed in The R&B Indies, information from a 78rpm copy in the Crown Propeller Collection), Here is the music (warning: no jazz or r’n’b content!) I cannot find the 78rpm right now, so I might add a picture later.

The Little Black Sheep:

My Dream

NESTOR 11: No information

MICHELLE & HIS ORGAN (v. Jimmy Milner)

N-12A     Love Is Such A Funny Thing
N-12B     Now That You’re Gone

(Information from “The R&B Indies”)

Mae Parrish with unidentified tp, tb, ts, g, p, b, d, vocal ensemble on “Function …”

Philadelphia, probably late 1955 or early 1956

N-13A     Function On Broadway
N-13B     Let’s Make Love Tonight

Information from The R&B Indies, and Fancourt – McGrath: The Blues Discography 1943–1970. Fancourt/McGrath give 1953/1954 as the recording date, but this was probably later. The  New York Age of  February 11, 1956 noted: “Mae Parrish, sensational blues singer, getting good response from her recent recording of “Function On Broadway” on Nester (sic!) label.”

Here is “Function On Broadway”:

Freddie Clark (voc), unknown tp, as, p, b, d

N-14A     Begging Papa Blues
N-13B     Got The Blues

Information from The R&B Indies and Fancourt – McGrath: The Blues Discography 1943–1970 and a 78rpm copy of Nestor 14 in the Otto Flückiger Collection. When I go down to the archive again, I will take  pictures of the label. There were 45rpm copies as well. Here’s one from Youtube user stompingsevens:

And if you’d like to hear the flip side too, here’s “Got The Blues” from Otto’s collection.

MONTEREYS (Dean Barlow)

N-15A     Someone Like You (White-Epps)
N-15B     Train Whistle Blues

Basic information from The R&B Indies. Composer credits from 45rpm label shots found on the internet. Nestor 15 was also released as Teenage 1001.


N-16A     There Goes That Train (R. McGill)
N-16B     I Gotta (B. Smith)

Basic information from The R&B Indies. Composer credits from 78 and 45rpm label shots  found on the internet.

Ray Edwards (voc), Dicky Howard, rest unknown

N-17A     Rolling Down The Highway
N-17B     Going Down The River (H. Gillespie – R. Jefferson)

Information from The R&B Indies and Classic Urban Harmony website.


N-18X45  119    Rosa Lee (M. Childs)
N-18X45 120   No Love (M. Childs)

Basic information from The R&B Indies. Composer credits from  45rpm label shots  found on the internet. Here is a vid of “Rosa Lee” from youtube user jdkays:

NESTOR 19 to NESTOR 25: No information


N-26A     One More Time (Ollie Blanchard)
N-26B     Sugarfoot Sam

Information from The R&B Indies, composer credit for N-26A from a copy on ebay. This is the first known Nestor with a N.Y.C. adress on the label.



N-27A     Remember (G. Payne)
N-17B     That Kiss You Gave Me (G. Payne)

Information from The R&B Indies and label shots from the internet.

NESTOR (number unknown)


unknown titles

Information about singer Lloyd “Fat Man” Smith recording for Nestor can be found in the Billboard of April 13, 1957 (dates in brackets added by me):

“Lloyd, the ‘Fat Man’, r.&b. singer and ork leader who has recorded on Peacock (1951/52), Gotham (1950), Nestor (??), Checker (??) and Epic (really Okeh, 1956), has been signed as a disk jockey on WHAT, Philadelphia.”

Some information about Lloyd “Fat Man” Smith can be found here.


If you have information about the unlisted Nestor records or can provide label scans or audio files of records from the list, please contact me via a comment.

Marshall Allen Magic Science Quartet : Oedipus/Edipo 2015

Posted in clips, Henry Grimes, jazz, Marshall Allen with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by crownpropeller

allen_grimesHenry Grimes and Marshall Allen at Casa Torre
in Poschiavo, Switzerland on September 19, 2015.
Photo by Armin Büttner

When one of my co-workers told me that Marshall Allen and Henry Grimes along with drummer Avreeyl Ra and Cornelia Müller would be accompagnying a screening of Cornelia Müller’s silent movie “Oedipus/Edipo” at Casa Torre in Poschiavo, Switzerland it was clear I had to go. Poschiavo is a five hour train ride from here – but what a beautiful voyage.

Cornelia “KA” Müller’s movie “Oedipus/Edipo” is a reinterpretation of the ancient greek myth, filmed in the surroundings of colorful Poschiavo Valley featuring Butoh dancer Yoshihiro Shimomura in nearly all roles. You can read all about the movie here. And here is the official trailer:

I really liked the movie, especially when Yoshihiro Shimomura did the Sphinx . But in a way it seemed like drummer Avreeyl Ra  and Cornelia Müller herself playing piano where the only ones reacting to what happened on screen, whereas Marshall Allen and Henry Grimes were faced towards the audience. Somehow this left the music rather directionless. Here is a small excerpt from the Casa Torre screening (which of course does neither the movie or the musicians right):

After the movie was over, people had applauded and the lights had gone up again, the quartet started an encore of which I managed to capture a nice part on video with Marshall playing his EVI with Henry Grimes and Avreeyl Ra swinging behind him:

During the encore Allen also grabbed the alto saxophone to send the room off into space – something he had not done during the screening where he he had played EVI, Casio and Kora exclusively. I did not film his solo but captured the audio. Here it is with some pictures of the concert mixed with some shots of beautiful Poschiavo where the concert took place:


It was good to see that Marshall is still going strong (he’s 91 now!) and to hear that Henry Grimes plays so well. After the concert I bought Henry’s CD “The Tone Of Wonder” recorded in Poschiavo when he was artist in residence there in 2013:

2728821Here’s a nice review of it.

And of course after all was over girlfriend made a “snapshot with your superstar” photo of Marshall and me.

DSC_3502Clearly the taller person here needs a shave.

Two more shots  from the concert:

allen_grimes2 Henry Grimes and Marshall Allen at Casa Torre
in Poschiavo, Switzerland on September 19, 2015.
Photo by Armin Büttner

allen_grimes3 Henry Grimes, Marshall Allen and Avreeyl Ra at Casa Torre
in Poschiavo, Switzerland on September 19, 2015.
Photo by Armin Büttner


P.S.: There are still copies of the LP available, that my friend Hubi and me recorded with Marshall Allen and cellist Kash Killion in 2012 (see here and here).

R.I.P. Harold Ousley

Posted in Harold Ousley, King Kolax, Little Jimmy Scott with tags , , , , on August 16, 2015 by crownpropeller

harold_ousley_1957Harold Ousley in 1957, taken from
Jazz Hot.

Yesterday the jazz world received the sad news of tenor saxophonist Harold Ousley’s passing.

Ousley who was born in Chicago on January 23, 1929, replaced Dick Davis in trumpeter King Kolax‘ band for a while in the mid-fifties after Davis’ passing. That is the reason why on one day in 1999 I went to Bern where Ousley was playing with his group at Marians Jazz Room. I tried to talk to Ousley about his time with Kolax during the break, but only had a minute or two since he was surrounded by people wanting to talk to him. The only thing he told me about Kolax was a “ladies’ men, always full of jokes”. Ousley asked me to talk to him again after the show, but this did not work out since I had to catch the train back to Basel where I was living at the time.

After the show there was just enough time to acquire one of the CDs that Ousley had brought with him and have it signed:


“That’s When We Thought Of Love” was recorded in 1986 (and released only in 1994 on J’s Way Records) with Ousley, pianist James Weidman, bassist Don Gladstone, drummer Curtis Boyd, and guitarist Greg Skaff. It is a nice and relaxed session which strangely is not mentioned in Tom Lord’s Jazz Records. But what really makes it special is the guest apperance of my favourite male jazz singer, Little Jimmy Scott on three tracks, “All Of Me”, Pennies From Heaven” and “Time After Time”.

Of these I especially love “All Of Me” because it is one of the rare opportunities to listen to the great late Jimmy Scott singing above a tempo that is not so morbidly slow as the ones he ususally chose (or was given). Add to that that Ousley plays a very fine solo here:



And here is a rare track from Ousley’s days in King Kolax’s band. “Vivian” which was probably arranged by Sonny Blount later known as the one and only Sun Ra, was recorded on December 22, 1954 by  Kolax [William Little] (tp, ldr, voc); Harold Ousley (ts); Prentice McCarey (p); “Cowboy” Martin (b); Leon Hooper (d, Latin perc):



What you hear here is an alternate take of the version that was originally released on the 78 rpm Vee Jay 136. If you want to hear (and see) the original version, it’s here:


About Ornette Coleman (1930–2015)

Posted in Ornette Coleman, Uncategorized with tags , on July 3, 2015 by crownpropeller
by Armin Büttner

The history of jazz can be read as a story of men who seemingly came from nowhere and made everything that came before  look terribly old. It all began in the twenties with Louis Armstrong who literally invented the jazz solo. In the fourties it was Charlie Parker who made a whole generation lay ever more complex chord structures  over  the good old harmonies. Everyone wanted to be like Bird, including his heroin addiction.

Ornette Coleman who passed on June 11 aged 85  was such a singular figure. Coleman as well as tenor saxist John Coltrane were central to the free jazz revolution of the early 1960s. When Coltrane died in 1967 he left behind an army of epigones trying to get ever closer to the creator by means of exotic scales. Looking back the heritage of Ornette Coleman is much greater: It is not about doing justice to the expectations of the critics, the audience, or to the musical conventions of one’s time. It is about relying on oneself as a thinking, feeling and intuitively creative human being.


Is the future bound to squawk?

«Something Else!!!!», «Tomorrow Is the Question», «The Shape of Jazz to Come», «Change of the Century»: The future is here,  announced the titles of Coleman’s first LPs released between 1958 and 1960. These titles  – invented by the record company – let people expect a poser and pretender.

John Lewis, the Modern Jazz Quartets pianist, had brought Coleman from Los Angeles to New York City in 1959 and introduced him into the important jazz circles. But a lot of the established musicians could not get what Coleman – the shy man with the seemingly wrong notes, the wrong technique and the false sense of harmony – should have to do with the future of jazz. And that squawky plastic saxophone! And why did Don Cherry, Coleman’s partner in crime, play such a funny pocket trumpet?

But many influential critics, fans and musicians heard where Coleman was coming from musically, heard where he wanted to go – and were enthused. Instead of imitating his playing, they let themselves be inspired by his attitude: Do what ever you think is musically right in any moment, throw your creativity in a pot with other people’s creativity – and you will reach an “unison”.


Ways into the wonderful

Ornette Coleman was born into a poor family in 1930. Already as a teenager he tried to earn some money playing r’n’b in the blues bars of his home town Fort Worth. Because of his often strange sounding playing – autodidact Coleman had misunderstood important parts of classic harmony – he was thrown out of several bands. After a gig in a small town somewhere he was battered by a bunch of dissatisfied white people, they also smashed his instrument.

Coleman was not willing to give up, his initial harmonic misunderstanding had opened wonderful worlds for him that he decided to never leave again: dissonances that do not sound ugly but intuitively right. Tone sequences against doctrine that are of a surprisingly forceful logic. Abstractions which are full of – however veiled –the communicative powers of Texas blues.

Ornette Coleman’s music is easily recognizable, no matter if he is composing for an orchestra or a string quartet, grabbing trumpet or violin or if he leads his free funk band Prime Time. «Harmolodics» is  what Coleman called his system with which he tried to give equal importance to the elements harmony, melody, tempo and rhythm.  When Coleman talked about it this concept his speech was filled with metaphors and oscillating terms («unison», «love») that he left the critics more confused than undelighted.

The logic of intuition

When in 1987 a german TV reporter asks Coleman what the term «Harmolodics» means, he replies that it’s an attempt “to transfer human logic into music”. This may sound like a construction plan for a cold and rational music. In reality it’s a fitting description of Coleman’s friendly, universalitic and deeply humanistic music. Because human beings do not think in bits and bytes, but in analogies and associations, mental connections. And they have feelings that tend to dance with their logic, they are intuitive.

For Coleman the latter never meant to just blow as if there is no tomorrow. He did not like the term “Free jazz” – again the invention of some record company’s PR person.  «I am a composer», Coleman says to the TV-Reporter, «everything I do is based on a thought out concept.»

With his concept Coleman revolutionized jazz like Picasso did with painting or James Joyce with literature: Nobody’s  music has ever sounded like Ornette Coleman’s music. But without Coleman countless musicians would not sound the way they do. Coleman had shown them that it’s possible to leave the system.

Ornette Coleman Prime Time Lugano 1991

Posted in clips, jazz, Ornette Coleman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2015 by crownpropeller

ornetteR.I.P., Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015)

Fight your sadness with music: Ornette Coleman Prime Time 1991 at the Estival Jazz in Lugano, Switzerland, July 4, 1991 (in three parts):


Ornette Coleman: alto; Dave Bryant: keyb, p; Ken Wessel: eg; Chris Rosenberg: eg; Al MacDowell: eb; Badal Roy: tabla, perc; Denardo Coleman: dr.

Rejoice, rejoice!

R.I.P. Ornette Coleman (1930–2015)

Posted in jazz, Ornette Coleman, Peter Brötzmann with tags , , , , on June 11, 2015 by crownpropeller


No words, just music:

Peter Brötzmann playing Ornette Colemans “Lonely Woman” in 1984.







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