Cuomo

Ejazz

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Jim Cuomo's name will go mostly forgotten in the history of music, since his activity was mainly confined to the role of session player. But since the late '60s he has leisurely worked on tape and later computer compositions. These are now collected on Ejazz, and they paint an iconoclastic picture that couldn't be perceived from his work as a sideman. Forward-looking, although not ferociously avant-garde, this music is challenging, pretty, and entertaining all at the same time. The main opus and the strangest item on the record is "Those Old Stock-Pavilion Blues, or Will the Big Bands Ever Feedback." Recorded in 1967, it is written for "prepared jazzmen" (a pun on "prepared piano"), computer, and tape. The tape part is a complex, abstractly structured piece of early electronic music. The jazz-band part consists of straight-ahead hard bop by Cuomo's group (Jim Knapp, Charlie Braugham, Bob Witmer, and Mitch Hennes) and the two are not intermingled but superimposed, creating a rough clash between tradition and innovation, acoustic and electronic. Structured into two "sets" with a "break" in between, the piece shows a witty sense of humor that makes it delightful. The other point of interest is "Chamberpiece for Bearded Percussionist and Two-Channel Tape" (1968, recorded in 2001), where the score is the tape (i.e., the tape part consists of a [treated] female voice reading out directions to the performer, Malicorne's Jean-Pierre Arnoux). The shorter tracks for sax, electronic percussion (by Camille Saféris), and Amiga computer sequences have a nice lightness to them, especially "Sky Logic." There is a lot of tape hiss in the older pieces, but otherwise Ejazz makes a fine collection, of appeal to Cuomo's fans and to those with an interest in early electronic/computer music.

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