June 17th, 2013
Tad Hendrickson wrote an interesting article about drummer/healer Milford Graves and the Vision Festival paying tribute to him:
Milford Graves has long been recognized as one of the seminal ESP-Disk’ artists, appearing on five ESP albums:
ESP1004 New York Art Quartet
ESP1007 Giuseppi Logan Quartet
ESP1008 Paul Bley Quintet: Barrage
ESP1012 Lowell Davidson Trio
and of course
ESP1015 Milford Graves Percussion Ensemble
May 5th, 2013
(photo: J. MacDonald)
One of the most passionate and compelling bands on Brooklyn’s famed indie-rock scene, Grooms will release its third album, Infinity Caller, later this year on Western Vinyl. Just back from shows in Mexico, the group has an upcoming gig on May 30 in Philadelphia at Kung Fu Necktie. As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are happy to have Grooms’ singer/guitarist Travis Johnson kick off our Famous Fans series of testimonials.
“ESP-Disk’ is the most quietly important record label ever, it’s kinda that simple. Behind every other great noise band or avant-electronic act is free jazz or someone like The Fugs, and behind every other great, famous band of any kind, from The Beatles to Beat Happening to Talk Talk, is something that reached its real pinnacle on ESP. You don’t get the ‘it’s not dissonant, it’s modal!’ sexed-up amateurish innocence of twee without something like Virgin Fugs. You don’t get the terrifying but blissful caterwauling of the scarier moments of The Beatles without something like Heliocentric Worlds. Well, maybe you do, but I don’t want you to. It’s better if you go through a record like Spiritual Unity first, or Patty Waters’ thrilling live performances (in which you’ll find a forerunner to some freak folk, particularly the vocal freedom involved therein). It’s better if you understand it all as coming from a label whose motto is ’The artists alone decide what you will hear on their ESP-Disk.’ Because that’s the basis of freedom, of punk, of real rock in general, whether that rock is made with modular synth or guitar or alto sax. With everything in the ‘underground’ getting more and more controlled, more industry-oriented, this is always a good place to go back to to be refreshed.”
April 9th, 2013
ESP-Disk’ is making two of its April releases available for pre-order, with special benefits for you!
To introduce our new signing, indie-psych-folk duo Arborea, we are offering a pre-order sale price of $12.98 for their CD Fortress of the Sun. Once the CD’s April 30 release date arrives, this price will increase, so take advantage now to save some dollars. Pre-orders of either the CD or the vinyl will include an immediately delivered download at no extra cost.
Pre-ordering the reissue of the Byron Allen Trio’s self-titled album will ensure that you can get this limited edition release. As part of ESP-Disk’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of our founding in 1963, we are reissuing some items from our extensive catalog of avant-garde jazz, underground/outsider rock and folk, etc. that have never been officially issued in the U.S. on CD. The Byron Allen Trio CD is the first in this series we’ve dubbed rESPlica. Each one rESPlica CD will reproduce the LP artwork (with two minor changes: our former addresses will be deleted to avoid confusion, and a UPC code will be added). The new remasters of these albums have been done specifically for ESP-Disk’s 50th anniversary by archivist Michael D. Anderson from the original tapes. Only a thousand copies of each rESPlica album will be printed. rESPlica pre-orders will also include an immediately delivered download at no extra cost.
April 9th, 2013
Here are the honored ESP-Disk’ albums:
#99 Cromagnon - Orgasm:
#93 Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground:
#88 Ornette Coleman - Town Hall 1962:
#40 The Godz - Contact High:
#19 Albert Ayler - Spiritual Unity:
#9 Sun Ra - Heliocentric Worlds vols. 1 & 2:
Have you got all seven?
February 13th, 2013
ESP-Disk’ is proud to announce the signing of Maine-based duo Arborea. Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, ESP-Disk’ is known for its diverse roster of rock, jazz, and folk artists from the underground, and Arborea continues that tradition.
Among the most artistically successful alchemists of Indie/Psychedelic Folk, Maine-based duo Arborea consists of Shanti Curran (vocals, banjo, “banjimer” [a banjo-dulcimer hybrid], harmonium, ukulele, sawing fiddle, and hammered dulcimer) and Buck Curran (guitars, vocals, sawing fiddle, flute, and banjo). Weaving together strands of indie rock, Appalachian folk, psychedelia, and ambient music into what has been called avant-folk, Arborea’s songs combine delicate beauty and mystical lyrics with the timelessness of ancient songs (sometimes literally, as they occasionally rework old folk and blues songs into new shapes).
The band’s first album for ESP-Disk’, Fortress of the Sun (ESP5002CD), will be released on CD on April 30, 2013. A vinyl edition will follow, and the album will also be available via download. Fortress of the Sun is their fifth full-length album.
Since 2007 Arborea has performed shows and festivals throughout the US, UK, and Europe, including the Green Man Festival (Wales, 2007), Tanned Tin Festival (Spain, 2007 & 2010), BBC/World on 3 Session (London, 2009), Moseley Folk Festival (UK, 2010), Electric Picnic Festival (Ireland, 2010), Philadelphia Folk Festival (2012), and an NPR Tiny Desk Concert in 2012.
NPR’s Bob Boilen included their SXSW performance on his “Favorite Concerts of 2012″ list.
Rolling Stone‘s David Fricke included their previous album, Red Planet, on his list of “The Best Under-the-Radar Albums of 2011″ and called their music “trance-folk that, at every turn in the slipstream, seems to hail from another country: the murder ballads of Appalachia; the plucked-string stasis and Om drone of New York minimalism; the iridescent-Middle East imagination of the Incredible String Band.”
Red Planet also made Editors Top Pick in Guitar Player and Top Vinyl Pick in Mojo.
The BBC wrote of their 2009 album House of Sticks, “Sounding like frayed, half-remembered, hand-me-down tunes, shaped and altered with each retelling, the fluidity and the sparse application of instruments wherein Eastern and Western modes gently mingle is the secret of this album’s startling beauty.”
Arborea also curated two compilation albums: Leaves of Life (2009), to benefit the UN World Food Program, and We Are All One, In the Sun: A Tribute to Robbie Basho (2010), which received a four-star review in Mojo and a 7.9 Pitchfork review and made the Best Acoustic Albums of 2010 list in Acoustic Guitar and Editors Top Pick in Guitar Player for 2010.
RIYL: Espers, Pentangle, Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley, Sharon Van Etten, Mazzy Star, Robbie Basho
January 21st, 2013
November 5th, 2012
ESP-Disk’ is proud to partner with Eyebeam Art & Technology Center and Downtown Music Gallery as sponsor for a brave new experiment in improvised music.
See the link below for more details and keep checking the ESP-Disk’ News page for more updates!
Music Factory – New Languages 2012
October 11th, 2012
The jazz world lost one of its unsung heroes when saxophone great John Tchicai passed away on October 7, 2012.
Read Ben Ratliff’s wonderful eulogy in the New York Times.
Two of our greatest records feature a young John Tchicai on alto saxophone.
ESP1004 – New York Art Quartet
ESP1016 – New York Eye & Ear Control
October 4th, 2012
ESP-Disk’ is excited to announce a new album from tenor sax great Charles Gayle!
Charles Gayle Trio – Look Up – ESP4070
For his first release for ESP-Disk, we present a 1994, HIGH ENERGY performance of Charles Gayle recorded live in Santa Barbara, California playing total FIRE MUSIC. The unique complementary nuance of the group brings forth (5) incredible performances featuring Charles playing tenor sax, bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Michael Wimberly. Liner notes are written by journalist Russ Musto.
June 12th, 2012
ESP-Disk’ is excited to announce its current crop of new releases and reissues! Stay tuned for more new releases from ESP-Disk’!
Marzette Watts & Company – ESP-1044 – 1966 (back catalog release)
The Alabama born saxophonist/clarinetist had a short lived career as a member of the sixties avant-garde, but achieved legendary status for the company he kept in his Cooper Square loft where the likes of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, and Pharoah Sanders often congregated. This debut date is best known for the presence of players, who like Watts, were to become renowned for the rareness of their recorded output, including Sonny Sharrock, Byard Lancaster, Clifford Thornton, Karl Berger and Henry Grimes.
ESP-4066 – FRANK LOWE – THE LOWESKI – 1973 (unreleased track from ESP-3013)
This previously unreleased recording features the remaining music from the legendary concert that produced Lowe’s ESP-Disk’s debut as a leader, Black Beings. Featuring Art Ensemble of Chicago saxophonist Joseph Jarman in perhaps his first New York appearance, with the future Cecil Taylor bass and drum team of William Parker and Rashid Sinan and violinist Raymond Lee Cheng (The Wizard) on his only known recording. High Energy Music in its purest form.
ESP-4068 – FRANK WRIGHT – BLUES FOR ALBERT AYLER – 1977
Recorded live at Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali’s Studio 77 – Ali’s Alley upon his triumphant return from an extended European sojourn the previously unreleased date features Wright paying tribute to his mentor Albert Ayler on his birthday with a luminary quartet including Ali, Ornette Coleman Prime Time guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer and bassist Benny Wilson. The Right Reverend Wright at his most Holy Ghost-est!
ESP-4069 – PHAROAH SANDERS – IN THE BEGINNING – 1963 – 1964 (4) CD BOX SET
This four CD set documents the first recordings of the iconic tenor saxophonist, prior to his well known association with John Coltrane. Beginning with two previously unreleased sessions with Ornette Coleman alumni Don Cherry and Paul Bley, followed by Pharoah’s debut date as a leader for ESP-Disk’ and concluding with the first issue ever of the complete the December 30 and 31, 1964 Sun Ra at Judson Hall concerts, Sanders only known recordings with the Arkestra the set also includes rare recorded interviews with Sanders, Cherry, Bley and Ra by ESP-Disk’ music producer Michael D. Anderson.
ESP-Book – ALWAYS IN TROUBLE: AN ORAL HISTORY OF ESP-DISK’ – by Jason Weiss
In 1964, Bernard Stollman launched the independent record label ESP-Disk’ in New York City to document the free jazz movement there. A bare-bones enterprise, ESP was in the right place at the right time, producing albums by artists like Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra, as well as folk-rock bands like the Fugs and Pearls Before Swine. But the label quickly ran into difficulties and, due to the politically subversive nature of some productions and sloppy business practices, it folded in 1974, and later restarted in 2005. Always in Trouble tells the story of ESP-Disk’ through a multitude of voices – first Stollman’s, as he recounts the improbably life of the label, and then the voices of many of the artists involved.