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Renzoku Jump - Henry Kaiser Remembers Toshinori Kondo (1948​-​2020)

by Toshinori Kondo, Henry Kaiser, Greg Goodman and John Oswald

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102a 01:32
102b 02:39
102e 04:16


"The early 1980’s was a truly exciting time for those of us who were witnessing the beginning of the Downtown Scene. When Fred Frith (ex-Henry Cow) moved here in 1979, he started working with John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne & Tom Cora, musicians I hadn’t heard of before but would soon come to admire and become friends with. With a few years, I discovered dozen of early Downtowners: Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, Polly Bradfield, Elliott Sharp, Zeena Parkins, Henry Kaiser & members of ROVA (both from the Bay Area) and many more. A number of international players also showed up around this time as well: Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Hans Reichel, the East/West German Quartet and a young trumpeter named Toshinori Kondo. Fred Frith, a longtime hero of mine, put together a series of ensembles like Massacre, Mad World Music & Skeleton Crew and worked with Material & Curlew. Japanese trumpeter, Toshinori Kondo, stood out since he was filled with the crazed creative energy, playing some of the most intense trumpet ever, dancing or contorting his body while playing and was filled with strange surprises. I remember him playing a solo with Mad World Music while wearing a three foot tall dunce cap, eventually taking off the dunce cap, cutting off the top and shoving the dunce cap in the mouth of his trumpet to finish the solo. Too much!

With the passing of Mr. Kondo in October of 2020, Mr. Kaiser has put together a collection of improvisations from a long period: 1978 to 2020. It turns out that Henry Kaiser and Toshinori Kondo’s musical relationship goes back even further than when I first heard both of them playing together in the early 1980’s. This disc is a collection of duos and trios and it is not in chronological order, giving us a chance to hear the these musicians play during different periods of their long music journey. This disc begins with a more recent long duo with Kondo & Kaiser from 2016. Word is that Mr. Kondo had lip problems due to playing so intensely for so many years and ended up playing in his middle register and using electronics to enhance his sound. He has done recordings which feature his electronics (like ’Nerve Tripper’ on DIW from 2002). On the first piece, “The Light in the Shade”, Kondo is playing long, sustained notes with subtle electronics while Kaiser plays some equally skeletal, ghost-like guitar. The effect is most haunting like entering slowly moving shimmering dreamworld. Both Kondo and Kaiser create heavenly, somewhat angelic sound which recalls when angels are playing harp in the heavens. Kaiser eventually floats in with a distinctive psych sustain guitar freak-out which is played with some restraint, the blend between both players is just right. There are three relatively short duos with Kaiser and Kondo from 1978 up next. What is interesting is this: although both musicians have evolved over much over 40 years, the way they play, the way they shape the sounds they make are similar in overall sound or effect: concentrating on every note or sound. The first trio piece is from Greg Goodman (keyboard), Kaiser and Kondo and it is live from 1980. It sounds like Mr. Goodman is playing an organ and the sound is most spooky. At times it is hard to tell the guitar from the organ although I do recognize certain signature sounds that Mr. Kaiser made when I first heard him around the same time. Mr. Kondo is already a master of strange and wondrous sounds, bending & twisting his notes in ways which are completely unique. Midway, Mr. Kaiser takes an extraordinary solo here while Mr. Goodman casts off some waves of free/jazz piano weirdness and Kondo interjects his own daredevil note bursts. The second duo features Kaiser, Kondo & John Oswald live in Toronto in 1979. The same trio had a rare album released the previous year in 1978. Both Mr. Oswald on alto sax and Mr. Kondo are trumpets, are already young masters of extended technique sounds, with some strong acoustic/organic interplay going on while Mr. Kaiser also interjects his own unique sounds into the mix. The final duo of Kaiser and Kondo is from 2020, the year that Kondo passed away. Again, we can hear the close language that has evolved between these two elders over the many years. This entire disc is 79+ minutes long and an incredible display of international free/improv at its best."

- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG


released June 17, 2022

Toshinori Kondo on trumpet, Henry Kaiser on guitar, Greg Goodman on piano and John Oswald on alto sax.


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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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