Saturday, August 6, 2005

Some more on the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Just a quick round-up, just in case you missed something.

Lessons Learned, Lessons Not Learned - an interview by Walter Cronkite with Mohammed El Baradei from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Under the Same Sun presents a Statement of apology to the Hibakusha from September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

Larry of Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time has a couple posts with his reflections on the 60th anniversary, here and here.

And via Tim's Democratic Left Infoasis here are a number of other items to peruse:

Needless Slaughter, Useful Terror - written to commemorate the 50th anniversary (1995).

From Oak Ridge to Lawrence Livermore to Los Alamos: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered.

Hiroshima Survivor: No More Hiroshimas, No More Nagasakis, No More War.

Hiroshima Cover-up: Stripping the War Department's Timesman of His Pulitzer and The Hiroshima cover-up.


Long-Suppressed Nagasaki Article Discovered (see also SPECIAL REPORT: A Great Nuclear-Age Mystery Solved and The Press and Hiroshima: August 6, 1945.

Voices rise from ashes of Japanese cities.

SPECIAL REPORT: Hiroshima Film Cover-up Exposed (see also Film Suppressed: The US Government Hides Hiroshima Nagasaki Footage For Decades. Apparently the footage is being shown On the Sundance Channel for those who have access to that particular cable station.

Hiroshima bomb may have carried hidden agenda.

Archives yield day-after Nagasaki aerial photos.

On Counterpunch, David Krieger has this essay: 60 Years Along the Journey of Death: From Hiroshima to Humanity. Sharon Weiner and Robert Jensen also have this essay at the same site: What August 6 Demands of Americans: From Hiroshima to Iraq and Back.

Plenty of food for thought.

"I am of the atom bomb"

Those are the words of one of Hiroshima's survivors on the 60th anniversary. At a time when nuclear weapons remain a threat to our collective survival, it is important to remember and to ask ourselves not only what we could have done differently then, but what we can do differently now.

Nothing like a good prank

Via the blog, A Logical Voice, this article - Art prankster sprays Israeli wall:
Secretive "guerrilla" artist Banksy has decorated Israel's controversial West Bank barrier with satirical images of life on the other side.

The nine paintings were created on the Palestinian side of the barrier.

One depicts a hole in the wall with an idyllic beach, while another shows a mountain landscape on the other side.

Banksy's spokeswoman Jo Brooks said: "The Israeli security forces did shoot in the air threateningly and there were quite a few guns pointed at him."

Another picture shows the head of a white horse appearing to poke through, while he has also painted a ladder going over the wall.

The 425-mile (680-kilometre) long barrier, made of concrete walls and razor-wire fences, is still being erected by Israeli authorities.

Israel says the structure is necessary to protect the country from suicide bombers, but the International Court of Justice has said it breaches international law.

Banksy, who hails from the UK city of Bristol, never allows himself to be photographed and created the images last week.

He condemned the wall but described it as "the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers".

His previous creations, which critics condemn as stunts, have included a bronze spoof of the statue of Justice from the Old Bailey, London, wearing thigh-high boots and a suspender belt.

He also embarrassed the British Museum by planting a hoax cave painting of a man pushing a supermarket trolley, which he said went unnoticed for three days.

He has also smuggled and hung works in galleries including the Tate Britain in London and the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Guerilla art is cool. Until the Israeli wall comes down, tag it, I say.

Some jazz ramblings

I remember being intrigued by Edward Said's essay "Traveling Theory" from the early 1980s. The basic upshot of the essay is that the interpretation of a theoretical text will change as people from different cultures and languages gain access to the text (or at least translations thereof). In other words, what the theory might "mean" to the reader can diverge sharply from the original intent of the author as the theory travels from culture to culture, and over time as well.

I think about this a bit as I continue to dig on various facets of jazz, especially "free" or "avant-garde" jazz. In America, where free jazz originated, the music now has close to a five-decade-long heritage starting with the early works of cats like Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, and Cecil Taylor. In the 1960s of course it is necessary to mention folks like Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, John Coltrane, the AACM crowd, and so on. Many of these same folks remained active into the 1970s (and on into the present). Although some critics, such as Phil Freeman (see his excellent book New York is Now ), tend to decontextualize the music from its social, historical, and political contexts I would beg to differ and suggest instead that an appreciation of the civil rights struggle as well as the issue of socio-economic class is critical to understanding the work of these artists. The vast majority of the musicians associated with free jazz during its early days were African-Americans, primarily male. Even those who came from middle class backgrounds knew the sting of bigotry all too personally. Although many of the musicians may not have made their views explicit, sometimes you'd get a hint from the choice of song titles, references in the music itself, the choice by a number of musicians to adopt Muslim or Swahili names. The music showed a deep appreciation of blues and folk traditions - just listen to the Jimmy Garrison bass solo that opens Coltrane's tune "Ascent", or dig on Archie Shepp's "Blasé" or Albert Ayler's reworking of traditional folk tunes and spirituals.

Free jazz is of course a product of the late 20th century (and now early 21st century) and one of the beauties of the last few decades has been the rapidity with which musical ideas can travel. A few decades ago, jazzers would tour Europe or Japan, gigging at various clubs and introducing some new sounds to new audiences. Sure enough, free jazz has gained loyal followings in locales quite distant from the American shores. In Europe we've seen cats like Peter Brötzmann mastering the art of free improv. In Japan, cats like Kaoru Abe were gigging and cutting records by the turn of the 1970s and making the music their own. In fact, it's worth noting that by the 1970s free jazz (as is true with jazz more generally) had a larger audience in Europe and Japan than in the US. One of the things that's interesting is the listening experience of the music once it's been transplanted. Take saxophonist Kaoru Abe, for instance. When I listen to his recordings, I can swear I hear the ghost of Albert Ayler in his solos. Like Ayler, Abe was a fierce soloist - in fact Abe's music was so intense he had a hard time finding cats to gig with him (hence, many of his recordings are truly solo). Both were pouring their souls into their improvs, and yet they were approaching free improv from different angles. Ayler's recordings and compositions, as mentioned earlier, were embedded in a civil rights and class struggle that was specific to the US of the 1960s. Abe's music strikes me as embedded in the context of a post-WWII Japan that was still dealing with the fallout of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, was drawing upon somewhat different musical traditions, and in a collectivistic culture that was in the process of adapting to a highly industrialized economy. Hence the blues that one feels in Ayler is not to to be felt in Abe's recordings - although both cats provide an equally intense listening experience.

Across time, free jazz has traveled as well. Take a look at the contemporary American free jazz audience and musicians. Many of us are Gen Xers (or Gen Y) who come to jazz by way of punk, industrial, and heavy metal (and I'm not talkin' hairspray bands, folks). Phil Freeman, the critic who authored New York is Now, comes readily to mind. He's noted that it's much easier for a free jazz act to get press in the hardcore or metal fanzines than it is in publications that specialize in jazz. A cat like Arthur Doyle has better luck getting exposure by way of Sonic Youth than he would, say, than at more traditional jazz avenues. The audience is not surprisingly, largely white, middle-class, and college-educated. We're generally too young to understand experientially what was going on four or five decades ago, we've been exposed to a different set of musical experiences, and are embedded within a social, historical, and political context that one could argue is radically different from the one that existed in the 1960s. When I play Pharoah Sanders' "Live at the East" (a great recording from the early 1970s), I'm likely to have a considerably different experience than someone playing that same record when it was first issued. Just on a musical level alone, let's face the fact that sounds that were mind-blowing a few decades ago seem less so in the aftermath of punk, industrial, grindcore, etc. Recordings by Coltrane and Ornette Coleman that were once labeled "anti-jazz" seem pretty mellow to my ears. The new generation of free jazz musicians come from a much more eclectic set of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds than their forebearers and are bringing to their work a whole host of new musical influences (Matthew Shipp, for example increasingly utilizes hip-hop, turntablism, electronica into his recorded work). Musically, these cats are reacting to the moribund conservatism of the mainstream jazz world of the 1980s to the present. The musicians, like their audience, are dealing with an American social and political scene that is largely apathetic and complacent and one in which progressives and radicals seem to spend much energy merely preventing whatever pitiful social progress we've had from being decimated - a far cry from what was going down a few decades ago. It's a different world - one in which free improv still offers abundant possibilities. It's a context that might not produce another "Love Supreme," but which is still capable of producing music that is very powerful and filled with the spontaneity and freedom that made the music so compelling back in the beginning.

Thursday, August 4, 2005


Born 104 years ago today, as I understand it. Here's a brief bio on Louie Armstrong. I'm not all that familiar with his work - my interests and focus are largely elsewhere - but there's no doubting just how important this cat was in the development of jazz. Mad props to Alice at Booman Tribune for the reminder.

Some thangs to check out

It's "Free Jazz Thursday" for Carl - and this cat's got quite a playlist going on - and judging by the playlist Carl knows his stuff.

Speaking of jazz, Michael Brecker is very ill, with a disease called Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Don't know anything about the illness, but given that he apparently needs a bone marrow transplant I'd say it's pretty serious.

I stumbled onto Blogcritics quite by chance: here's a review of Sony's Sly and the Family Stone retrospective that came out a couple years ago, as well as a post on Sly Stone turning 60 last year. Not only are the posts interesting reading, but you should really check out the comments - some of which include cats talking about hanging and/or playing with the funk legend at various points in his career.

The Bulldog Manifesto has started a series on "The Struggle Against Ideological Extremism" focusing on America's own home-grown extremists, such as Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson. It'll be fun to see who's next on the list. Oh, the possibilities (such as Michelle Malkin) are endless...

David Elliot of the blog Abolish the Death Penalty points out that Amnesty International now has a couple blogs. Check them out.

Maybe the peak oil situation isn't so grave after all? Hey, I can always use a dose of optimism in these dark times.

Peace and love, y'all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Nuclear War

"Nuclear war, it's a motherfucker/ If they push that button, your ass gotta go" - Sun Ra (1982)

Leave it to Sun Ra to tell it like it is. Well, folks, we're as of this writing fast approaching the 60th anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings which were the first cases of a nation using nuclear weapons in wartime. I've lived my entire life in the shadow of those tragic events - arguably the opening shots in what has become a never-ending nuclear arms race. Yeah, I recall the old "mutually assured destruction" policy that was the old cold war practice and for some of my younger readers it's a bit hard to appreciate just how frightening the spectre of a global nuclear conflagration really was during the 1970s and 1980s. Movies like "The Day After" (which you can now readily find on dvd, by the way) depicted what the world might be like in the immediate aftermath of a total nuclear war, scientists warned of the potential of a nuclear winter (all the dust & junk stirred up by these bombs would apparently block out much of the sun's rays and hence the sun's heat for a sufficiently long period of time to effectively doom our species to extinction), etc. Of course I was well-versed in such 1960s classics as "Dr. Strangelove", which depicts a nuclear conflagration as the result of human error and ideological blindness; and also Kurt Vonnegut's classic "Cat's Cradle" which used the substance Ice-9 as a metaphorical vehicle for nukes (again touching on human stupidity as likely ending the species).

I have the impression - either correctly or incorrectly (I'm not quite sure), that after the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a false sense of security regarding the potential for nukes of various sizes to be used, and a general false belief that the major world powers were doing what needed to be done to reduce the stockpiles of these weapons. We know that the number of nations who possess nuclear weapons has continued to grow, and that others appear eager to join the so-called nuclear club. We also know that the US has used so-called depleted uranium weapons in the 1991 Gulf War and apparently in the present Iraq war with deleterious health consequences for soldiers and civilians alike.

One bit of recommended reading: Sirocco's recentThe US as nuclear rogue state. Part I of II. This cat does a decent job of laying out what our government's been up to in relation to international law. Make sure to also check out the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

In the meantime, I can't help but note how I've marked previous anniversaries. On the 40th anniversary I would have been in transit from the Seattle-Tacoma area to the LA/Orange County area where I would embark on university life. The 50th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing was also the day I defended my Master's thesis (successfully) and also the day I learned that I was going to become a dad (also good - albeit stressful news). This weekend I may be helping with an enrollment clinic on the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima. Life seems to keep going on - with the possibility of not just mortality but total annihilation always somewhere haunting the deeper recesses of the mind.


"Moral clarity - what we need now is..."

From Empire Notes, these words of wisdom:
...To the average American, Iraq appears like a quagmire where, for incomprehensible reasons some of "them" are intently engaged on blowing up others of "them," with the United States desperately (and to most, foolishly) trying to maintain order, for no discernible reason except bringing democracy, which is something "they" don't even want. That is the basis of poll numbers that indicate criticism of the government's Iraq policy.

Couple that with some dim feeling that if the United States withdraws, things will get worse, that gas already costs too much, throw in the always-present belief that United States intervention is necessary to keep the world running properly and to keep all of those barbarians from killing each other, and you have a recipe for mass confusion, reflected in polls where the number supporting some unspecified withdrawal seem to vary almost randomly.

Now subject these people to an arcane debate about whether there are enough troops, whether the troops have enough armor, how fast Iraqi security forces are being trained, whether we should withdraw sooner or later (with no time frames usually mentioned), does the war have any connection to terrorism, should the UN be involved, while in the background things keep blowing up, and you get a public that decides to concentrate on Natalie Holloway or Michael Jackson.

Note that in the mainstream debate, there is no clarity of position. Bush says we will withdraw "just as soon as the job is done" and his opponents say we should have a timetable; in the middle, people quibble about Humvee armor and security force training.


Even many of those people, though they have more information on what is going on, are lacking the same essential ingredient that the rest of the American people are lacking: moral clarity. Like the Vietnam war, this war is not an issue that can be left to the self-interested maneuverings of major political figures. Moral clarity is what's needed to transform confused apathetic distaste for the war into a burning desire to do something about it.

Moral clarity is what's needed to cut the Gordian knot of conflicting strategies for pacifying Iraq, Pentagon announcements of a vague desire to withdraw troops within vaguely the next year, questions about whether Arabs want democracy, and all the other nonsense that constitutes the public debate.

The planned protests on September 24-26 will be the first ones since February 15, 2003, that drop into a favorable political climate. Hollywood celebrities, liberal newspaper columnists, and progressive Congresspeople will all be poised to use those protests as a launching pad. If the ground is prepared with a moral critique that does not stop at Bush but expands to implicate 21st-century America, then the bump we get after the protests may be the beginning of a sustained shift in consciousness; otherwise, it will be just another flash in the pan.

The guy's dead on. It's probably been noted here before that all the evils of the world didn't start with Bu$hCo (it just seems that way). There's been a pervasive pattern of US government involvement in various human rights abuses aimed at the so-called "third world" that go back way before this president, way before many of us reading this blog were even born, heck - way back to the very beginning. Whether we're looking at the implications of the Monroe Doctrine, manifest destiny, the "white man's burden" or whatever you want to call it, the song remains largely the same. "We" must somehow "civilize" and "pacify" those "savage" natives in order to extract their resources with minimal cost. Our leaders will use lofty but meaningly language about spreading democracy, and freedom like some crack whore spreads herpes and with about the same unfortunate consequences for anyone who just happens to be in contact. Thing is, it's pretty obvious the consequences are bad. What's needed is the blunt reminder that the practice is bad as well. It will take considerable moral clarity to realize that imperialist and neo-imperialist policies, by their very nature (e.g., genocide, propping up brutal dictatorships, subjecting a large proportion of humanity to desperate poverty) are immoral.

Monday, August 1, 2005

"We are torturing children at Abu Ghraib"

That's the line that starts off this diary by jpol. The image is a collage of last year's disturbing Abu Ghraib torture pictures. As we know, there are quite a few more that Bu$hCo is desperate to keep under wraps. This White House does not want you to know what it has approved of, or to view the consequences of its actions. And to give you a taste of what's been going down, here's a clip:
A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that coalition forces are holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib. Witnesses claim that the detainees - some as young as 10 - are also being subjected to rape and torture

It was early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says he witnessed the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. "The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets," he said in a statement given to investigators probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. "Then, when I heard the screaming I climbed the door ... and I saw [the soldier's name is deleted] who was wearing a military uniform." Hilas, who was himself threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Graib, then describes in horrific detail how the soldier raped "the little kid".

In another witness statement, passed to the Sunday Herald, former prisoner Thaar Salman Dawod said: "[I saw] two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and [a US soldier] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners. The prisoners, two of them, were young."

It's not certain exactly how many children are being held by coalition forces in Iraq, but a Sunday Herald investigation suggests there are up to 107. Their names are not known, nor is where they are being kept, how long they will be held or what has happened to them during their detention.

Proof of the widespread arrest and detention of children in Iraq by US and UK forces is contained in an internal Unicef report written in June. The report has - surprisingly - not been made public. A key section on child protection, headed "Children in Conflict with the Law or with Coalition Forces", reads: "In July and August 2003, several meetings were conducted with CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) ... and Ministry of Justice to address issues related to juvenile justice and the situation of children detained by the coalition forces ... Unicef is working through a variety of channels to try and learn more about conditions for children who are imprisoned or detained, and to ensure that their rights are respected."

Another section reads: "Information on the number, age, gender and conditions of incarceration is limited. In Basra and Karbala children arrested for alleged activities targeting the occupying forces are reported to be routinely transferred to an internee facility in Um Qasr. The categorisation of these children as `internees' is worrying since it implies indefinite holding without contact with family, expectation of trial or due process."

The report also states: "A detention centre for children was established in Baghdad, where according to ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) a significant number of children were detained. Unicef was informed that the coalition forces were planning to transfer all children in adult facilities to this `specialised' child detention centre. In July 2003, Unicef requested a visit to the centre but access was denied. Poor security in the area of the detention centre has prevented visits by independent observers like the ICRC since last December.

"The perceived unjust detention of Iraqi males, including youths, for suspected activities against the occupying forces has become one of the leading causes for the mounting frustration among Iraqi youths and the potential for radicalisation of this population group."

...An Iraqi TV reporter Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz saw the Abu Ghraib children's wing when he was arrested by Americans while making a documentary. He spent 74 days in Abu Ghraib.

"I saw a camp for children there," he said. "Boys, under the age of puberty. There were certainly hundreds of children in this camp." Al-Baz said he heard a 12-year-old girl crying. Her brother was also held in the jail. One night guards came into her cell. "She was beaten," said al-Baz. "I heard her call out, `They have undressed me. They have poured water over me.'"

He says he heard her cries and whimpering daily - this, in turn, caused other prisoners to cry as they listened to her. Al-Baz also told of an ill 15-year-old boy who was soaked repeatedly with hoses until he collapsed. Guards then brought in the child's father with a hood over his head. The boy collapsed again.

...Between January and May this year the Red Cross registered a total of 107 juveniles in detention during 19 visits to six coalition prisons. The aid organisation's Rana Sidani said they had no complete information about the ages of those detained, or how they had been treated. The deteriorating security situation has prevented the Red Cross visiting all detention centres.

Amnesty International is outraged by the detention of children. It is aware of "numerous human rights violations against Iraqi juveniles, including detentions, torture and ill-treatment, and killings". Amnesty has interviewed former detainees who say they've seen boys as young as 10 in Abu Ghraib.

...Alistair Hodgett, media director of Amnesty International USA, said the coalition forces needed to be "transparent" about their policy of child detentions, adding: "Secrecy is one thing that rings alarm bells." Amnesty was given brief access to one jail in Mosul, he said, but has been repeatedly turned away from all others. He pointed out that even countries "which don't have good records", such as Libya, gave Amnesty access to prisons. "Denying access just fuels the rumour mill," he said.

...High-placed officials in the Pentagon and Centcom told the Sunday Herald that children as young as 14 were being held by US forces. "We do have juveniles detained," a source said. "They have been detained as they are deemed to be a threat or because they have acted against the coalition or Iraqis."

Officially, the Pentagon says it is holding "around 60 juvenile detainees primarily aged 16 and 17", although when it was pointed out that the Red Cross estimate is substantially higher, a source admitted "numbers may have gone up, we might have detained more kids".

...Pentagon sources said they were unaware how long child prisoners were kept in jail but said their cases were reviewed every 90 days. The last review was early last month. The sources confirmed the children had been questioned and interrogated when initially detained, but could not say whether this was "an adult-style interrogation".

...Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was "extremely disturbed" that the coalition was holding children for long periods in jails notorious for torture. HRW also criticised the policy of categorising children as "security detainees", saying this did not give carte blanche for them to be held indefinitely. HRW said if there was evidence the children had committed crimes then they should be tried in Iraqi courts, otherwise they should be returned to their families.

Unicef is "profoundly disturbed" by reports of children being abused in coalition jails. Alexandra Yuster, Unicef's senior adviser on child detention, said that under international law children should be detained only as a last resort and only then for the shortest possible time.

They should have access to lawyers and their families, be kept safe, healthy, educated, well-fed and not be subjected to any form of mental or physical punishment, she added. Unicef is now "desperately" trying to get more information on the fate of the children currently detained in coalition jails.

I'm a parent. I find news of physical and sexual abuse of kids to be profoundly disturbing. That this kind of abuse is apparently considered acceptable by our government and by huge proportion of the Republican Party is especially sickening. That's the GOP: the party of child molestation (provided of course that the kids are Muslims).

Some late 1960s rap

Yes. You read correctly. This EP is an interesting footnote in Jimi Hendrix's career, as well as the career of the rap collective known as the Last Poets. Recorded in November of 1969, Hendrix (guitar, bass) and Buddy Miles (drums, organ) lay out a jam over which Lightnin' Rod (aka Jalal Mansur Nuriddin) raps this story about a prostitute. As I understand it, Hendrix's bass line and Miles' organ playing were over-dubbed after the initial session. Apparently this was just one of those gigs that happened because everyone was at the right place at the right time. Hendrix's producer at the time was also in the process of recording and producing the early Last Poets albums, and as sometimes happens these cats end up at the studio at roughly the same time, get to talking and jamming, and next thing you know the tape is running. Took a while for any of the session to make it to a proper release - first in 1984 as a 12" single on Celluloid and later as a CD on Restless (1992). Apparently the title track "Doriella Du Fontaine" goes on some 13 minutes, but the complete jam has yet to see the light of day. Instead, we get a nearly 9 minute "full" version, a 5 minute radio edit, and a 4 minute instrumental jam from the session. There's also a 4th track called "O.D." in which Lightnin' Rod is accompanied by Miles on organ. The jams are tight, Hendrix's style is definitely recognizeable, and Miles lays down a steady funk beat. Definitely recommended for fans of the Last Poets and dedicated Jimi Hendrix fans (I suppose I could consider myself both), and for those who wish to get a fuller understanding of the early origins of hip-hop.

For more info, check out this cat's review, which includes the lyrics to "Doriella Du Fontaine" and also this interview with the controversial Alan Douglas (the posthumous Hendrix recordings that he produced are rather notorious for the liberal use of overdubs and remixing), which details his involvement with the Last Poets and with Jimi Hendrix. Interesting reading - and interesting listening.

A recording that slipped through the cracks:

Maulawi Nururdin's eponymous Maulawi, was recently reissued on Soul Jazz's Universal Sound imprint. Here's their description:
This is the only recording of Maulawi Nururdin and his group. Originally recorded in Chicago in Sep 1973, and released by a small independent label in Detroit the following year. The music fell between the gap of the avant-garde and straight-ahead jazz, and had elements of Funk and Latin that were rare at the time that meant that commercially it sank without a trace - but, thirty years on, we can see that these are exactly the elements that help make it a unique album, years ahead of its time.

Maulawi grew up in Chicago and, as the album sleeve states, was part of the great heritage of Chicago music that ranged from the electric blues of Muddy Waters, the straight ahead jazz of Ahmad Jamal, through to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra, Anthony Braxton and other members of the avant-garde royalty. As a saxophonist he was also part of the tradition of great Chicago horn-players that includes Gene Ammons, Eddie Harris, Johnny Griffin and many more.

Maulawi had led his own group since the 1960s and a number of young musicians came up through his group – Billy Greenfield, Jack DeJohnette, Jerome Cooper and on this album a16 year old Adam Rudolph (who currently records on Soul Jazz Records as Hu Vibrational).

Maulawi was a multi-instrumentalist and bandleader and although he specialised on saxophones, also played oboe, piano, drums and more. His career was on the periphery of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the collective of avant-garde musicians in Chicago that included Richard Muhal Abrams, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Amina Claudine Myers – he was never a member but often played with those involved in this musical community, musicians such as Billy Brentfield and Fred Anderson.

In 1973 the group went into the studio to record this one record for Strata Records in Detroit, an independent label run by Kenny Cox (who himself had led the Contemporary Jazz Quintet on Blue Note Records) and Charles Moore. A planned association that never worked out also led to the birth of another label, Strata East Records in New York, run by Charles Tolliver and Stanley Cowell.

I've played parts of this album before (I tend to rummage around for out-of-print music on mp3 format and stumbled upon it quite by accident). The first track "Street Rap" has an intense funk groove upon which is layered what sounds like a conversation somewhere in the streets of Chicago - it's got a strongly proto-rap feel to it, to say the least and demonstrates just how much the beginnings of hip-hop were in the air during the early 1970s as well as the role of jazz in hip-hop's development. The remaining tracks are fairly straight-ahead 1970s soul jazz with plenty of Latin and African percussion elements, and gorgeous vocals (keeping in mind that the voice is used here as another instrument). The tunes are all originals with the exception of Coltrane's "Naima", which is reinterpreted in a more uptempo Latin-jazz style that I find quite pleasing to the ears (and I'm a huge fan of the original version!). The last track ("Sphinx Rabbit") kicks out the jams and veers more into avant-garde territory, which is no big surprise given Maulawi's connections to the AACM. I'd definitely recommend picking this one up while it lasts. It's an intense but pleasant listen - just enough "out there" to stretch the imagination, yet perfect for the office or car cd player. Too bad the cat just fell off the face of the earth after this one recording. I wonder if he still kept gigging.