08/06/08

Porter Records Aims to Release “Music for the Eclectic People”

Based in Winter Park, Fla., Porter Records is quietly placing its stamp on jazz with its new and reissued experimental releases. The banner on Porter’s Web site reads, “Music for the eclectic people.” And that’s just what the independent label, which Luke Mosling launched in 2007, aims to bring its audience.

“We will be bringing you a wide range of music from jazz to experimental electronic music and everything in-between,” Porter Records’ Web site reads. “We are always looking for new music or music that has fallen between the cracks over the ages. So if you make or know of someone who has made some interesting music, just drop us an e-mail.”

The label’s catalog is growing monthly, and recently it released work from Henry Grimes (pictured) and Rashied Ali, Odean Pope, the Ted Daniel Quintet and Byard Lancaster. On Aug. 19, Porter will release 1970s-era recordings from Joe Chambers (New World) and Heikki Sarmanto (Counterbalance), both for the first time on CD. Porter releases are also available digitally, through a variety of online retailers.

Here are some highlights from Porter’s recent and upcoming calendar of releases:

Odean Pope: What Went Before Volume 1—This album serves as a retrospective of sorts for Pope, a collection of some of his previously released, but now out-of-print trio recordings. Compiling two live performances—one from 1995 in Philadelphia, one from 2000 in New York—the album features Pope’s tenor saxophone backed by Tyrone Brown’s upright double bass and two different drummers (Craig McIver and Mickey Roker). What Went Before Volume 1 is a rare look at Pope in a small setting, leading the charge through sax, bass and drum interplay. A highlight is “Cis,” a tribute to Pope’s wife.

Byard Lancaster: Personal Testimony (Then and Now)—More a re-vamping then a re-release, Personal Testimony takes Lancaster’s original studio album, as recorded in 1979, and tacks on six new cuts, recorded in 2007. The “Then” and the “Now” share a similar style, an intimacy of the truly solo record that Personal Testimony is. Lancaster uses more than eight instruments, including his voice, throughout in an experiment in overdubbing. Songs build with layer upon layer of instrumentation and then deconstruct in sometimes chaotic sonic blasts. It’s experimentation at its finest, a perfect match for Porter Records.

Henry Grimes and Rashied Ali: Going to the Ritual—Before March 20, 2007, Grimes and Ali hadn’t played together in front of an audience since an appearance on Archie Shepp’s On This Night in 1965. The audience at Columbia University’s WKCR studios in 2007 was in for a treat then when the bassist and drummer set up for a near-nonstop 55-minute improvisation session, split here into four tracks. “Easternal Mysticim, Virtue and Calm” is a brief spoken-word break by Grimes, which is reprinted in the disc’s liner notes. In addition to bass and voice, Grimes also plays violin during the session, which helps break up the monotony that may have been present in a full on drum and bass album. Surprisingly, Grimes and Ali keep the music interesting throughout, never faltering despite the limiting format, with Ali’s odd time signatures leading the way.

Ted Daniel Quartet: Tapestry—Another never-before-released on CD recording, Tapestry has the Ted Daniel Quartet at times at its fiercest, at others its most soothing. Recorded at Ornette Coleman’s Artist House in SoHo, New York on Jan. 26, 1974, Daniel and his band are experimenting with the free-jazz and fusion sounds of the ’70s, never quite landing on either side. Daniel plays trumpet on the opener, the continually shifting “Asagefo,” the only previously unreleased cut on the album, and flugelhorn on the other three pieces. He’s joined by his brother Richard on a fantastically played Fender Rhodes, Khan Jamal and textured vibraphone, Jerome Cooper on free-form drums and Tim Ingles on a non-fretted electric bass with wah-wah.

Joe Chambers: New World—Always the sideman, rarely the leader, Chambers has worked with Bobby Hutcherson, Freddie Hubbard and Max Roach throughout his career. His 1976 solo album, New World, however, is a forgotten gem showcasing Chambers’ talents as a leader. Bookended by two of his own compositions, the brisk 33-minute set is heavy on percussion, but at times slides into the light and mellow side of things. Chambers is backed by a six-piece band, which includes percussionist Omar Clay, who contributes “Chung Dynasty.” Chambers’ drumming is at the forefront, but the other players step up as well, such as on Wayne Shorter’s “Rio,” with frantic yet smooth lead-guitar work from Paul Metzke. Also impressive is Chambers’ work with the vibes on “Chung Dynasty.”

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