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Above Protocol

by Andrea Centazzo, Henry Kaiser

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ANDREA CENTAZZO & HENRY KAISER - Above & Beyond Protocol (Metalanguage 9103/4; USA) Featuring Andrea Centazzo on percussion, malletkat & sampler and Henry Kaiser on electric & acoustic guitars. In November of 1978, Italian percussionist Andrea Centazzo came to New York and recorded with early members of the (soon-to-be-reckoned with) Downtown Scene: John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Tom Cora, Polly Bradfield… Mr. Centazzo soon rented a van and drove across the US, working with a number up & coming musicians: Davey Williams & LaDonna Smith, Jack Wright, John Carter, Vinny Golia, members of Rova Sax Qt and guitarist Henry Kaiser. Mr. Centazzo soon started his own label (Ictus) to document his sessions in the US, as well as his evolving participation with many Italian and other European creative musicians. Mr. Centazzo eventually moved to L.A., where he still lives and renewed his collaborations with Dr. Chadbourne, John Zorn and Mr. Kaiser.
This fabulous 2 CD set features unreleased recordings from that initial trip in 1978, as well as two more recent sessions from 2017 and 2019. Both musicians have come a long way, their playing has evolved quite a bit over the 40+ years. Originally, Mr. Centazzo played mostly a drum kit (working with many other Italian avant-jazz grearts, but for more than a decade, Centazzo plays a large collection of gongs, timbales, assorted cymbals, electronic vibes (malletkat) and sampled percussion/sounds. Mr. Kaiser also has worked his way through a variety of devices for his electric guitar, eventually ending up with a rack of effects to choose from. The opening track, “Nostalgic Protocol”, seems to combine the old with the new, that early Downtown/insect-music improv sound with a more current free/improv exchange. There is a fascinating balance/exchange of ideas going on here, an ongoing dialogue which each partner creates their own story or scenery, the other player moving within the flow. Mr. Kaiser alters the sound of his guitar on each piece, evoking a variety of vibes, genres or styles. Even when Mr. Kaiser switches to acoustic guitar, his playing is constantly evolving, reaching backwards and forwards as he goes. Mr. Kaiser sounds as if he is using an e-bow on his acoustic guitar to coax some mysterious drones in the second half of the first disc. I found that although both discs are pretty long (75+ minutes each), the music was/is consistently engaging. While listening, I kept thinking that I was entering a new space on each piece, the scenery in my mind’s eye unfolding and changing as we move along.
Then first disc comes from two session in 2107 & 2019. The second disc also features some 23 minutes of improvised duets from 1978, some 40 plus years ago and early in the music careers of both musicians. One of the things that stands out here is the way Mr. Kaiser keeps altering the sound of his guitar on each piece, consisting evoking a variety of sonic scenery which is often in flux as it shifts into another place. Mr. Kaiser is a master of effects which works well since Mr. Centazzo also keeps altering his sounds between acoustic percussion, cymbals, gongs and sampler. Hard to tell who is doing what at times. Back in 1978, both Mr. Kaiser and Mr. Centazzo, had less devices to utilize. Still, the overall sound and approach to free improv is intact. Perhaps less dense at times yet still superb. What it does remind me of is that early/Old School Downtown free sound which players like John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne & Tom Cora, were developing when I first heard in in late 1979 and afterwards. This entire two disc set clocks in at 2 & 1/2 hours of music! Mr. Kaiser still knows how to give us more bang for our dollar(s). Dig in! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

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released March 6, 2020

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Henry Kaiser San Francisco, California

Henry Kaiser is an American guitarist and composer, known as an idiosyncratic soloist, a sideman, an ethnomusicologist, and a film score composer. Recording and performing prolifically in many styles of music, Kaiser is a fixture on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. He is considered a member of the "second generation" of American free improvisers. ... more

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