Friday, April 2, 2010

Serge Ermoll's Free Kata - The New Language of Music Vol. 2 Featuring John Clare (1976)

And here's Volume 2, featuring the improvised poetry of John Clare. I'm no judge of poetry, so I've not much to say about that aspect of it, save to say that it's quite an impressive feat to get through 28 minutes of free improv (much less in the presence of such an unholy racket) without repeating yourself and falling back on old riffs or talking absoulute gibberish. I have heard Clare speaking a few times and don't recall his having such clipped BBC diction. I could be wrong, though. Clare says in the liner notes that he was subject to "an emotional browbeating" by the musicians during these sessions, he assumes to enhance his spontaneity and prevent his falling back into old material.

Whenever I hear "poetry and jazz" I'm afraid I can't help but think of Lenny Bruce's old Psychopathia Sexualis bit.

However, I suspect this is largely my own problem.

Clare used to be quite a prolific writer, both in the Sydney Morning Herald and the free "inky" gig guide, On the Street (where for some time he used the pseudonym Gail Brennan, claiming that when he used his real name people accused him of pretentiously copping the name of a 19th Century English poet).
He also wrote a book called Bodgie Dada and the Cult of Cool, a history of post-war Australian jazz. I borrowed this from the library when it came out, and can recommend it. I bought a copy recently but haven't gotten around to re-reading it.
Clare's columns in OTS were occasionally a bit rambly and self-indulgent, but more often were invaluable to those like me who were looking for music that was a bit beyond what was on Triple J at the time. He was a staunch supporter of SIMA too, and on his advice I saw many a gig at the Strawberry Hills, where I would often see him, sitting up the front nursing an orange juice and listening, rapt, to the music.
I was about to say that I didn't know what he was up to nowadays, having not seen his writing published recently, but the SIMA site linked to above contains his review of the recent Wayne Shorter concert at the Opera House (which I also attended), and several reviews and diaries going back a few years. I really should try and keep up with this stuff.

I'll be buggered if I can remember where and when I bought this album, or how much I paid for it, save to say that it was a brief time after I bought the first volume.

A1: Atlantis (28.24)
B1: Derelictus (14:51)

[NB the tracks are labelled the other way around on the sleeve and label, but it seems clear from the lyrical content they should be labelled as above. Side one is very long for a vinyl record, so it's a bit noisy in the quieter parts - I've given it a clean with the trusty AM fluid, but haven't tried to clean it digitally for fear of losing some of the music]

John Clare - Vocals
Serge Ermoll - Piano
Louis Burdett - Drums
Eddie Bronson - Saxophone
Recorded October 10, 1976

Free Kata Records, Cat # KATA 003.
320kbps mp3

[Links fixed 22/1/12]

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