Various Artists

Kimus #4

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These various artist samplers that Hat issues periodically to either introduce its upcoming releases or review the label's achievements in doing so are always interesting affairs. Kimus #4 is no exception. Over 73 minutes we are treated to selections from Fritz Hauser's and Stephan Greider's magnificent "The Mirror," which was recorded on a humungous church pipe organ as well as drums, cymbals, and tympani; four selections from Austrian Franz Koglmann's controversial and beautiful album, A White Line, on which he pays tribute to all of his favorite white composers including himself; three gorgeous Lennie Tristano pieces performed by Anthony Braxton's quintet from this Eight (+3) Compositions, 1989, for Warne Marsh; and finally the 22-minute title piece from the late Horace Tapscott's amazing quartet with Andrew Cyrille, the also late clarinetist John Carter, and bassist Cecil McBee. What is remarkable about these compilations is how well they fit together, from the outrageous, like Hauser and Greider, to the near institutionality of Koglmann to fractured boplicity of Braxton to the full circle jazz avant-gardism of Tapscott. It works in a perverse way, but its works nonetheless. Hearing the transition from Hauser and Greider to Koglmann is funny. From an improvisation that takes its cues from the world of the spirit to the near political compositional and arrangement auto-didacticism of Koglmann makes sense in an absurd world. And though Koglmann's work is beautiful, almost too beautiful for words, there is a troubling undercurrent to his European colonial views regarding music and culture. Braxton and Tapscott showcase entirely different sides of tradition (for Braxton, too, it is a "white line" from Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh that ends in a black mark in the bell of his horn), though he is the bridge as cultural and racial politics have never been an issue for him, whether it be the music of Stockhausen or Jelly Roll Morton. Tapscott's band is other the end of the musical and cultural line, a radical musical avant-garde that didn't even include white musicians until Steve Lacy. His quartet fully unwraps all western harmonic and tonal conventions in "The Dark Tree." The upshot is this: there is an ideological class and cultural war going on in the musical world as well as everywhere else. Hat, as a label, chooses to err on the side of musical excellence and disregard ideology to the point of mixing it all up together on a single disc that feels not like conflict, but its opposite, in the name of artistic excellence and diversity.

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