Monday, November 4, 2013

ESP - Disk Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Live Concert & More

ESP-Disk', the venerable New York City label that pioneered in releasing free jazz and underground rock, is closing out its 50th year – its most active this decade – with a bonanza of activity: a new signing, the first reissue of a lost classic, and a 50th anniversary concert.

October 29th brings the first official reissue of the rare 1965 album Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano. This album, Blake's solo debut, has barely been heard since its appearance in ESP-Disk's first batch of LP releases in 1965, as the reissue programs in Europe (by the ZYX, Get Back, Abraxas, and Calibre labels) did not include it. Recording opportunities were sparse at first for Blake; by age 40 he had released only three albums: his 1962 debut with vocalist Jeanne Lee, The Newest Sound Around (RCA), Plays Solo Piano, and another solo album, The Blue Potato and Other Outrages (Milestone, 1969, long out of print). Since then, fortunately, he has received many more opportunities to get his music heard and has established himself as one of the reigning American masters of jazz. Fans and aficionados, including members of the jazz press, have clamored for Plays Solo Piano to be included in our 50th Anniversary Remaster program, citing its musical and historical importance, so here it is! The loss of the tapes, which went missing decades ago, was a stumbling block, but Michael D. Anderson produced a remaster using a pristine vinyl LP. The slight distortion on a few high notes – present on the original recording, alas – is a small price to pay to hear this historically important album by a jazz master at the beginning of his illustrious career. Available on CD and digital download.

ESP-Disk' is not living in the past, though, as it recently signed a young trio, Tiger Hatchery, which makes its full-length debut with Sun Worship, out on vinyl, CD, and digital download on November 18, with liner notes by John Olson of Wolf Eyes.. This is one of the most powerful albums in the storied history of ESP-Disk', and that's saying something! Forged in the crucible of the Chicago free-jazz/indie-rock scene, Tiger Hatchery consists of brain-melting saxophonist Mike Forbes, visionary upright bassist Andrew Scott Young, and quixotically innovative drummer Ben Billington. When Forbes, in search of a like-minded bassist, first heard Young playing in Denton, TX, he approached him by asking, "Hey man, you ever heard of Albert Ayler?" After getting the hell away from the University of North Texas College of Music, they moved to Chicago in 2007 and searched for a drummer. Billington remembers, "I sort of just brought my sloppy 'free rock' vibe to the mix, but I quickly adapted to a more keen sense of improvisation and seemed natural...we knew we had something special going." Tiger Hatchery's first post-signing appearance in New York City will come on November 17 at JACK in Brooklyn for the ESP-Disk' 50th Anniversary concert. (More news on that below!) Here's their Fall tour schedule:

Nov. 12 Chicago, IL: The Burlington
Nov. 13 Cleveland, OH: The Happy Dog
Nov. 14 Washington DC: Union Arts
Nov. 15 Philadelphia: Millcreek Tavern
Nov. 16 Baltimore, MD: Coward Shoe
Nov. 17 Brooklyn, NY: ESP 50th Anniversary concert at JACK
Nov. 18 Boston, MA: Charlie's Kitchen
Nov. 19 New Haven, CT: Lip Gloss Crisis
Nov. 20 Buffalo, NY: Electric Avenue
Nov. 21 Oberlin/Columbus, OH: Ace of Cups

To celebrate the label's 50th anniversary, ESP-Disk' has planned a concert for Sunday November 17 (3-9 PM) at JACK, a rising venue in Brooklyn. Featured performers will represent the past and present of ESP-Disk': multi-instrumentalists Kali Fasteau (Sea Ensemble), Giuseppi Logan, and Alan Sondheim hail from the label's 1965-75 heyday, while guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil (TOTEM) and trio Tiger Hatchery (ESP-Disk's latest signing) show that the scene and the label continue to produce exciting artists. Additionally, former Sun Ra Arkestra member Michael D. Anderson will perform, and the ESP-Disk' 50th Anniversary Concert will benefit the Sun Ra Music Archives. The latter part of the concert will be a jam session featuring a variety of guests.
JACK is located at 505 1/2 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn NY 11238 between Fulton St. and Atlantic Ave. in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. It is easily accessible by taking the C train to the Clinton-Washington stop, one block away from JACK, or the G train to Clinton-Washington, a few blocks away. There is also free street parking available on Waverly Ave.

For additional information and review copies of ESP-Disk' releases, please contact