Found Sound

The Unheard Music Series documents essential recordings of free improvisation, from the early '60s through the mid-'80s

Nachtluft, Belle-View I-IV. Improvised percussive metallurgy and real-time tape ops from 1986. Introducing a new category of neglect: "It falls in the crack between the LP era and the CD era, so this is one of those classic examples of the forgotten LP that came out as an LP just as everybody was switching over to CDs." Comes complete with site diagram (not for home use).

Guillermo Gregorio, Otra Musica. A survey of Gregorio's work, ranging from homemade tapework from the early 1960s through his stint with Argentinian avantensemble Movimiento Musica Mas to a series of duets and overdubbed solo pieces from 1964-65. The rest provides the historical interest, but it's Gregorio's reed playing that generates the unassailably free beauteousness of the package. Corbett: "This, for me, is the first UMS record that is the core of what I want us to be doing."

Tchicai-Schweizer Group, Willi the Pig. Irène Schweizer's own choice for reissue, true-cross-fragment-level availability has kept this out of hands since its (limited) release in 1975. Opening abruptly onto a single extended piece, Willi is motored by tension and irresolve. Corbett calls it "a wonderful, kind of idiosyncratic record for all involved," featuring seriously riled drumming from Makaya Ntshoko; John Tchicai's continual, intentional register slippage; and some four-handed piano work.

Han Bennink and Atavistic reissues of works by the Schlippenbach Quartet, Sven-Ake Johansson and Nachluft.
Han Bennink and Atavistic reissues of works by the Schlippenbach Quartet, Sven-Ake Johansson and Nachluft.
Han Bennink and Atavistic reissues of works by the Schlippenbach Quartet, Sven-Ake Johansson and Nachluft.
Han Bennink and Atavistic reissues of works by the Schlippenbach Quartet, Sven-Ake Johansson and Nachluft.

Sven-Ake Johansson, Schlingerland. A solo percussion set, says Corbett, "exploring the meaning of the trap kit." Remarkable for its dynamic range and flow achieved with purposefully limited means, Schlingerland's reissue is remastered by Johansson, with an additional track from the session, and with the LP cover restored to its hand-colored glory. Corbett: "It's a very, very strange record, which really is the way it ought to be, because he's a very peculiar guy."

Schlippenbach Quartet, Hunting the Snake. Prime documentation of that branch of Euro free improvisation that hews most closely to something you might or might not want to call jazz, this Radio Bremen session catches the Quartet (Alexander von Schlippenbach, Evan Parker, Peter Kowald, Paul Lovens) on their way way out. "It's one of my favorites," says Corbett.

Anyone with ears and brain linked can be done a great service by the Unheard Music Series. And though no one is making a fortune releasing this stuff, there are other ways to get paid. "There's still music out there that I've never heard of that knocks me out, that surprises me and offers parts of the historical puzzle that nobody even knows are missing," says Corbett, "I'm doing this to surprise myself."

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