by Blank Forms

Blank Forms #09 – Sound Signatures
Lawrence Kumpf (ed.)
Blank Forms - 26.00€ -  out of stock

The penultimate Blank Forms anthology presents new, in-depth interviews with musicians Theo Parrish, Amelia Cuni, Akio Suzuki, and more.

At the centerpiece of Blank Forms 09: Sound Signatures is a career-spanning, twenty-hour conversation conducted over four days between producer, remixer, and Detroit house music legend Theo Parrish and veteran music journalist Mike Rubin. They go deep on Parrish's childhood in Chicago's South Side, sculptural training, and collaborations with Moodymann, Rick Wilhite, and Omar S, and explore how the social movements of 2020 have reshaped his practice and dance music at large. This volume also includes an heavily-illustrated discussion between Dhrupad singer Amelia Cuni and sound artist/tuning theorist Marcus Pal, covering Cuni's years studying voice and dance in India, her interpretations of John Cage's ragas, and collaborations with the likes of La Monte Young and Catherine Christer Hennix—accompanied by deeply researched essays from Cuni on Hindustani classical music and avant-garde performance. Finally, the collection features reminiscences from composer and performer Akio Suzuki and musician Aki Onda on Japanese Fluxus pioneer and Taj Mahal Travellers founder Takehisa Kosugi (1938–2018), with newly translated art criticism from Kosugi.

Blank Forms' journal brings together a combination of never-before published, lost, and new materials that supplement Blank Forms' live programs. It is envisioned as a platform for critical reflection and extended dialogue between scholars, artists, and other figures working within the world of experimental music and art.

Texts by Takehisa Kosugi and Amelia Cuni; interviews with Amelia Cuni by Marcus Pal, Akio Suzuki by Aki Onda, Theo Parrish by Mike Rubin.

A Strange Celestial Road – My Time in the Sun Ra Arkestra
Ahmed Abdullah with Louis Reyes Rivera
Blank Forms - 30.00€ -

In this memoir, Harlem-born trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah recounts decades of national and international touring with the Sun Ra Arkestra and charts the rise of New York loft jazz scene, offering a fascinating portrait of advanced music in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan from the 1970s through the 1990s.

In this captivating memoir, the first full-length account of life in the Arkestra by any of its members, Harlem-born trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah recounts two decades of traveling the spaceways with the inimitable composer, pianist, and big-band leader Sun Ra. Gigging everywhere from the legendary Bed-Stuy venue the East to the National Stadium in Lagos, Abdullah paints a vivid picture of the rise of loft jazz and the influence of Pan-Africanism on creative music, while capturing radical artistic and political developments across Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan in the 1970s and '80s. Richly illustrated with seventy-two pages of photographs and posters from Adger Cowans, Marilyn Nance, Val Wilmer, and others, A Strange Celestial Road interweaves the author's own moving story—his battles with addiction, spiritual development, and life as a working class performer—with enthralling tales of tutelage under Cal Massey, collaborations with the likes of Ed Blackwell, Marion Brown, and Andrew Cyrille, and profound, occasionally confounding, mentorship by Sun Ra. Originally written in the 1990s with the help of Nuyorican poet Louis Reyes Rivera and published now for the first time, with a foreword by Salim Washington, A Strange Celestial Road isnot only an autobiography, but a history of a remarkable and under-documented movement in music.

Ahmed Abdullah (Leroy Bland) joined the Sun Ra Arkestra as a trumpeter in 1974 and remained a member for more than twenty years. Born in Harlem in 1947, he became an important figure in the New York loft jazz movement, forming the group Abdullah in 1972, and going on to found the Melodic Art-Tet with Charles Brackeen, Ronnie Boykins, and Roger Blank in the early 1970s and The Group with Marion Brown, Billy Bang, Sirone, Fred Hopkins and Andrew Cyrille in 1986. Abdullah is a co-founder of the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, has been the music director of Dianne McIntyre's Sounds in Motion Dance Company, and is music director at the historic venue Sistas' Place in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He has been a music instructor at Carnegie Hall and Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, and teaches at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan and an elementary school in central Brooklyn.

Louis Reyes Rivera (1945-2012) was a Puerto Rican poet from Brooklyn. Known as the "Dean of Nuyorican Poetics," he led creative writing workshops in community centers and prisons across New York, lectured on Latin and Black diasporic history and literature at New York colleges including Hunter, Boricua, Pratt, and Stony Brook; and was a leader in the 1969 student movement at CUNY, leading to the founding of its department of ethnic studies. Rivera was also a prolific editor, working on books such as John Oliver Killens's Great Black Russian: The Life and Times of Alexander Pushkin, and a translator of works by Puerto Rican poets Clemente Soto Velez and Otto Rene Castillo. His own poetry collections include Who Pays the Cost (1977), This One for You (1983), and Scattered Scripture (1996), which received an award from the Latin American Writers Institute.

Blue in Green
Wesley Brown
Blank Forms - 22.00€ -  out of stock

Wesley Brown narrates the day when trumpeter Miles Davis was assaulted by the New York Police Department. A dramatic and humorous story, told from multiple perspectives including that of Frances Taylor, Davis's wife, and the musicians in Davis's bands: a timely meditation on the psychological impact of police brutality, through the lens of a day in the life of Miles Davis.

The latest work from the veteran novelist called "one hell of a writer" by James Baldwin and "wonderfully wry" by Donald Barthelme, Blue in Green narrates one evening in August 1959, when, mere weeks after the release of his landmark album Kind of Blue, Miles Davis is assaulted by a member of the New York City Police Department outside of Birdland. In the aftermath, we enter the strained relationship between Davis and the woman he will soon marry, Frances Taylor, whom he has recently pressured into ending her run as a performer on Broadway and retiring from modern dance and ballet altogether. Frances, who is increasingly subject to Davis's temper—fueled by both his professional envy and substance abuse— reckons with her disciplined upbringing, and, through a fateful meeting with Lena Horne, the conflicting demands of motherhood and artistic vocation. Meanwhile, blowing off steam from his beating, Miles speeds across Manhattan in his sports car. Racing alongside him are recollections of a stony, young John Coltrane, a combative Charlie Parker, and the stilted world of the Black middle class he's left behind. 

"Wesley Brown is a writer's writer. His dialog in Blue in Green is remarkable. He knows the varieties of the American language in and out. We get fascinating portraits of Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Clark Terry, Lena Horne, Katherine Dunham, Eartha Kitt, and others. An insider named Freeloader provides comic relief. Before the salespersons dictated trends in Black literature, a major publisher would have published this book. Thanks to Blank Forms and other midsize presses, the Black literary tradition, whose fictional standards were set by Brooks, Wright, Himes, Polite, Bambara, and others, is alive." — Ishmael Reed

The Cricket – Black Music in Evolution, 1968-69
Amiri Baraka, A. B. Spellman, and Larry Neal (eds.)
Blank Forms - 35.00€ -

Complete facsimile of The Cricket, an important but underknown music magazine edited by poets and writers Amiri Baraka, A. B. Spellman, and Larry Neal in 1968–69—a rare document of the Black Arts Movement.

Published in the late 1960s by Baraka's New Jersey-based JIHAD productions around the time of the Newark Riots, The Cricket: Black Evolution in Music was an experimental music magazine running poetry, short plays, and gossip alongside concert and record reviews and essays on music and politics. Over four mimeographed issues, The Cricket laid out an anti-commercial ideology and took aim at the conservative jazz press, providing a space for critics, poets, and journalists (including Stanley Crouch, Haki Madhubuti, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez, and Keorapetse Kgositsile) and musicians (including Cecil Taylor, Milford Graves, Sun Ra, Mtume, Albert Ayler, the Black Unity Trio) to devise new styles of music writing. The publication emerged from the heart of a political movement—"a proto-ideology, akin to but younger than the Garveyite movement and the separatism of Elijah Mohammed," as Spellman write's in the books preface—and aimed to reunite advanced art with its community, "to provide Black Music with a powerful historical and critical tool," and to enable avant-garde Black musicians and writers "to finally make a way for themselves."

This publication gathers all issues of the magazine and a new substantial introduction by artist and writer Kodwo Eshun.

Preface by A. B. Spellman.
Introduction by David Grundy.

Texts by Billy Abernathy, Albert Ayler, LeRoi Jones / Imamu Ameer Baraka, Duncan Barber, Black Unity Trio, Hilary Broadus, Ben Caldwell, Stanley Crouch, Dan Dawson, Joe Goncalves, Milford Graves, Ronnie Gross, Clyde Halisi, E. Hill, Haasan Oqwiendha Fum al Hut, Norman Jordan, Larry A. Miller / Mwanafunzi Katibu, Willie Kgositsile, Don L. Lee, Mtume, Gaston Neal, Larry Neal, Ibn Pori, Sun Ra, Ishmael Reed, Roger Riggins, Sonia Sanchez, A. B. Spellman, James T. Stewart, Donald Stone, Askia Muhammad Touré.

Organic Music Theatre – Festival de jazz de Chateauvallon 1972 (2 vinyl LP)
Don Cherry
Blank Forms - 37.00€ -  out of stock

Don Cherry’s New Researches featuring Naná Vasconcelos.

In the late 1960s, the American trumpet player and free jazz pioneer Don Cherry (1936–1995) and the Swedish visual artist and designer Moki Cherry (1943–2009) began a collaboration that imagined an alternative space for creative music, most succinctly expressed in Moki's aphorism "the stage is home and home is a stage." By 1972, they had given name to a concept that united Don's music, Moki's art, and their family life in rural Tagårp, Sweden into one holistic entity: Organic Music Theatre. Captured here is the historic first Organic Music Theatre performance from the 1972 Festival de jazz de Chateauvallon in the South of France, mastered from tapes recorded during its original live broadcast on public TV. A life-affirming, multicultural patchwork of borrowed tunes suffused with the hallowed aura of Don's extensive global travels, the performance documents the moment he publicly jettisoned his identity as a jazz musician, and represents  the start of his communal "mystical" period, later crystallized in recordings such as Organic Music Society, Relativity Suite, Brown Rice, and the soundtrack for Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain.

Try Saying You're Alive!
Kazuki Tomokawa
Blank Forms - 20.00€ -  out of stock

A memoir by Kawasaki-based writer and musician Kazuki Tomokawa, Try Saying You're Alive! offers a semi-fictionalized account of the vibrant Tokyo underground that he has been at the center of since the 1970s.

Recounting sixty years in the life of this "screaming philosopher." Try Saying You're Alive! traces Tomokawa's beginnings in the Akita Prefecture as a "runaway toddler," his adolescent basketball career, and his wanderings as a day laborer, gambler, painter, actor, drinker, and avant-garde folk guitarist. Anecdotes of figures such as novelist Kenji Nakagami, poet Shuji Terayama, actor Tôru Yuri, directors Takashi Miike and Nagisa Ōshima, and musicians Ryudo Uzaki and Kan Mikami animate this impassioned memoir by a legendary musician. This is the first English translation of Tomokawa's writing.

Kazuki Tomokawa (born Tenji Nozoki in 1950 in the Akita Prefecture area of northern Japan) is a prolific Japanese musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet, one of the pioneers of acid-folk, active on the Japanese music scene since the beginning of the 1970s, companion of musicians such as Kan Mikami, Keiji Haino or Motoharu Yoshizawa. He has recorded more than thirty albums.

The Summer House Sessions (vinyl LP)
Don Cherry
Blank Forms - 32.00€ -  out of stock

Don Cherry's lost Summer House Sessions finally available over fifty years after they were recorded.

In 1968, Don Cherry had already established himself as one of the leading voices of the avant-garde. Having pioneered free jazz as a member of Ornette Coleman's classic quartet, and with a high profile collaboration with John Coltrane under his belt, the globetrotting jazz trumpeter settled in Sweden with his partner Moki and her daughter Neneh. There, he assembled a group of Swedish musicians and led a series of weekly workshops at the ABF, or Workers' Educational Association, from February to April of 1968, with lessons on extended forms of improvisation including breathing, drones, Turkish rhythms, overtones, silence, natural voices, and Indian scales. That summer, saxophonist and recording engineer Göran Freese—who later recorded Don's classic Organic Music Society and Eternal NowLPs—invited Don, members of his two working bands, and a Turkish drummer to his summer house in Kummelnäs, just outside of Stockholm, for a series of rehearsals and jam sessions that put the prior months' workshops into practice. Long relegated to the status of a mysterious footnote in Don's sessionography, tapes from this session, as well as one professionally mixed tape intended for release, were recently found in the vaults of the Swedish Jazz Archive, and the lost Summer House Sessions are finally available over fifty years after they were recorded.

On July 20, the musicians gathered at Freese's summer house included Bernt Rosengren (tenor saxophone, flutes, clarinet), Tommy Koverhult (tenor saxophone, flutes), Leif Wennerström (drums), and Torbjörn Hultcrantz (bass) from Don's Swedish group; Jacques Thollot (drums) and Kent Carter (bass) from his newly formed international band New York Total Music Company; Bülent Ates (hand drum, drums), who was visiting from Turkey; and Don (pocket trumpet, flutes, percussion) himself. Lacking a common language, the players used music as their common means of communication. In this way, these frenetic and freewheeling sessions anticipate Don's turn to more explicitly pan-ethnic expression, preceding his epochal Eternal Rhythm dates by four months. The octet, comprising musicians from America, France, Sweden, and Turkey, was a perfect vehicle for Don's budding pursuit of "collage music," a concept inspired in part by the shortwave radio on which Don listened to sounds from around the world. Using the collage metaphor, Don eliminated solos and the introduction of tunes, transforming a wealth of melodies, sounds, and rhythms into poetic suites of different moods and changing forms. The Summer House Sessions ensemble joyously layers manifold cultural idioms, traversing the airy peaks and serene valleys of Cherry's earthly vision.

Partners – A Biography of Jerry Hunt
Stephen Housewright
Blank Forms - 17.00€ -

The life and work of Amercian experimental musician/composer/intermedia artist Jerry Hunt.

Jerry Hunt was among the most eccentric figures in the world of new music. A frenetic orator, occultist and engineering consultant, his works from the 1970s through the early '90s made use of readymade sculptures, medical technology, arcane talismans and all manner of homemade electronic implements to form confrontational recordings and enigmatic, powerful performances. Tracing Hunt's life across his home state's major cities to a self-built house in rural Van Zandt County, this memoir-cum-biography by Stephen Housewright, Hunt's partner of 35 years, offers illuminating depictions of Hunt's important installations and performances across North America and Europe.

Housewright narrates a lifetime spent together, beginning in high school as a closeted couple in an East Texas and ending with Hunt's battle with cancer and his eventual suicide, the subject of one of his most harrowing works of video art. This highly readable narrative contains many private correspondences with, and thrilling anecdotes about, Hunt's friends, family, and collaborators, including Joseph Celli, Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Galbreth, Karen Finley, James and Mary Fulkerson, Guy Klucevsek, Pauline Oliveros, Paul Panhuysen, Annea Lockwood, and the S.E.M. Ensemble.

Jerry Hunt (1943–93) was a Texas-born artist and musician with an astonishing mind and a mystifying practice. Hunt was a singular figure and one of the most radically unorthodox artists of his generation. His remarkable yet underknown work incorporated motion- and sensor-activated technologies, readymade props, eccentric choreographies, and sixteenth-century astrology into performance and composition. While he orbited avant-garde worlds in the United States and Europe, his personal life, spent largely on a ranch in rural Texas, remained elusive. 

Common Tones – Selected interviews with artists and musicians 2000-2020
Alan Licht
Blank Forms - 25.00€ -

The collection of previously unpublished interviews and extended versions of Alan Licht's famous conversations with figures in the American art and musicscene.

For the past thirty years, Alan Licht has been a performer, programmer, and chronicler of New York's art and music scenes. His dry wit, deep erudition, and unique perspective—informed by decades of experience as a touring and recording guitarist in the worlds of experimental music and underground rock—have distinguished him as the go-to writer for profiles of adventurous artists across genres. A precocious scholar and improvisor, by the time he graduated from Vassar College in 1990 Licht had already authored important articles on minimalist composers La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, and Charlemagne Palestine, and recorded with luminaries such as Rashied Ali and Thurston Moore. In 1999 he became a regular contributor to the British experimental music magazine The Wirewhile continuing to publish in a wide array of periodicals, ranging from the artworld glossies to underground fanzines. 

Common Tones gathers a selection of never-beforepublished interviews, many conducted during the writing of Licht's groundbreaking profiles, alongside extended versions of his celebrated conversations with artists, previously untranscribed public exchanges, and new dialogues held on the occasion of this collection. Even Lou Reed, a notoriously difficult interviewee also included here, was suitably impressed.

Blank Forms #07 – The Cowboy's Dreams of Home
Lawrence Kumpf and Joe Bucciero
Blank Forms - 20.00€ -

The seventh entry in an ongoing series of anthologies, this book features rare poems alongside new essays and interviews that engage the artists and themes explored elsewhere in Blank Forms' public programming.

Where most of prior entries, including Aspirations of Madness (2020), Intelligent Life (2019), and Music From The World Tomorrow (2018), have foregrounded little-seen or newly translated archival materials, this iteration privileges new texts produced specifically for the publication. These include an in-depth retrospective interview with the idiosyncratic Texan singer-songwriter and visual artist Terry Allen conducted by ICA Philadelphia chief curator Anthony Elms; a conversation between multidisciplinary writers—and longtime friends—Thulani Davis and Jessica Hagedorn on the occasion of Davis's latest poetry collection, Nothing but the Music, recently published by Blank Forms Editions; a recent discussion between composer Sarah Hennies and cellist Judith Hamann about their recent collaboration, which is included on Hamann's Music for Cello and Humming; and a conversation with composer-performers Tashi Wada and Charles Curtis, on the heels of a recent compilation of Curtis's work, Performances & Recordings 1998– 2018, produced by Wada. Each of these interviews shed light on the particularities of the artists' careers and methods in terms both formal and casual, practical and theoretical. 

In addition to these dialogues, this book features new critical reflections on three artists whose work Blank Forms has presented: the legendary jazz percussionist and healer Milford Graves, by Ciarán Finlayson; English multimedia artist Graham Lambkin and his beguiling 2011 album Amateur Doubles, by Alan Licht; and the UK-based experimental music trio Still House Plants, by Joe Bucciero. These articles mine historical, social, and theoretical contexts, filling gaps in the existing literature on the given artist-subjects. New and archival poems and writing about poetry complement these interviews and essays, including rare texts by Davis, Hagedorn, and René Daumal—the latter translated by Louise Landes Levi—and a suite of Auto-Mythological writings commissioned from Chicago-based composer and musician Angel Bat Dawid.

Blank Forms #06 – Organic Music Societies
Lawrence Kumpf, Naima Karlsson, Magnus Nygren
Blank Forms - 20.00€ -  out of stock

Archival documents and new writings on the intermedia collaborations of avant-garde jazz trumpeter Don Cherry and textile artist Moki Cherry.

Don and Moki Cherry (born Karlsson) met in Sweden in the late sixties. They began to live and perform together, dubbing their mix of communal art, social and environmentalist activism, children's education, and pan-ethnic expression “Organic Music.” Organic Music Societies, Blank Forms' sixth anthology, is a special issue released in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name devoted to the couple's multimedia collaborations. The first English-language publication on either figure, the book highlights models for collectivism and pedagogy deployed in the Cherrys' interpersonal and artistic work through the presentation of archival documents alongside newly translated and commissioned writings by musicians, scholars, and artists alike. 

Beginning with an overview by Blank Forms Artistic Director Lawrence Kumpf and Don Cherry biographer Magnus Nygren, this volume further explores Don's work of the period through a piece on his Relativity Suite by Ben Young and an essay on the diasporic quality of his music by Fumi Okiji. Ruba Katrib emphasizes the domestic element of Moki's practice in a biographical survey accompanied by full-color reproductions of Moki's vivid tapestries, paintings, and sculptures, which were used as performance environments by Don's ensembles during the Sweden years and beyond. Two selections of Moki's unpublished writings—consisting of autobiography, observations, illustrations, and diary entries, as well as poetry and aphorisms—are framed by tributes from her daughter Neneh Cherry and granddaughter Naima Karlsson. Swedish Cherry collaborator Christer Bothén contributes period travelogues from Morocco, Mali, and New York, providing insight into the cross-cultural communication that would soon come to be called “world music.” 

The collection also features several previously unpublished interviews with Don, conducted by Christopher R. Brewster and Keith Knox. A regular visitor to the Cherry schoolhouse in rural Sweden, Knox documented the family's magnetic milieu in his until-now unpublished Tågarp Publication. Reproduced here in its entirety, the journal includes an interview with Terry Riley, an essay on Pandit Pran Nath, and reports on counter-cultural education programs in Stockholm, including the Bombay Free School and the esoteric Forest University. 

Taken together, the texts, artwork, and abundant photographs collected in Organic Music Societies shine a long overdue spotlight on Don and Moki's prescient and collaborative experiments in the art of living.

Blank Forms #05 – Aspirations of Madness
Lawrence Kumpf with Joe Bucciero
Blank Forms - 20.00€ -  out of stock

Aspirations of Madness, Blank Forms' fifth collection of archival, unpublished, or newly translated texts, considers the work of Masayuki Takayanagi, the poet Louise Landes Levi, musician and writer Joseph Jarman, polymath Catherine Christer Hennix and her one-time student the poet Charles Stein, Russian musicologist Henry Orlov, and Maryanne Amacher—brilliant and overlooked artists whose work Blank Forms will continue to champion in a variety of contexts. Aspirations of Madness features additional contributions by Alan Cummings, Bill Dietz, Peter Kastakis, Art Lange, Leo Svirsky, Satoru Obara, and Tomoyuki Chida.

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