Monday, June 14, 2010
Michael Cosmic "Peace in the World" (1974)
Part of the purpose of this blog (though not wholly) is to share interesting bits of information about some of the unheralded heroes of improvised music. Getting to know the reedman and composer Phill Musra was a friendly coincidence of starting this blog, and he has been generous enough to share video, audio and information about his work and time in the Boston scene (as well as LA, where he currently resides). His recordings, though scarce, have long been of interest to collectors and fans of creative music. One of the rarest is the lone LP led by his twin brother and frequent collaborator, Michael Cosmic (1950-2001), a privately-released and limited-edition grail titled Peace in the World. The few copies I've seen have been numbered and each carries different, hand-made cover art, of which the pictured example is particularly fine.
Cosmic contributed alto saxophone, flute and other reeds as well as percussion to LPs led by Musra (The Creator Spaces, Intex, 1974), drummer Huseyin Ertunc (Musiki, Intex, 1974), and bassist-composer John Jamyll Jones' Worlds Experience Orchestra (Beginning of a New Birth, Worlds, 1975). All of these are wonderful and hard-to-find documents of creative improvisation, of which only the Ertunc has been reissued.
Peace in the World (Cosmic/Intex, 1974) is a little different from the unruly and sometimes almost-naif vibes of Musiki, or the deeply meditative Creator Spaces. Part of that is because Cosmic plays piano throughout, an instrument on which he's a solid improviser and tonally grounds the proceedings in a bottom-heavy and orchestral manner. Certainly this is aided by John Jamyll Jones's bass and the dual percussion landscape of Ertunc and Eric Jackson ("courtesy of WBCN-FM"). Granted, there's still a heavy dose of stratospheric and puckered tonal/rhythmic combinations on offer here, but the proceedings remain quite unlike much else you'll find in creative music.
The personnel are as follows:
Michael Cosmic: piano, piccolo, soprano saxophone
Phill Musra: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone and flute
Leonard Brown: tenor and soprano saxophone
John Jamyll Jones: bass
Huseyin Ertunc: drums and percussion
Eric Jackson: conga and percussion
A2: We Love You Malcolm X
B1: Space on Space
B2: Peace in the World
Though hopefully a reissue will come down the pike at some point, it remains hard to tell whether such a project will come to light soon. In the meantime, Musra has given Ni Kantu the permission to share this album with you.
Please follow this link to get the tracks, freshly ripped from my copy of the "Cosmic Paradise" version of the LP. Note: there is a pressing defect in the vinyl on track A1 that makes a few short pops. I have not de-clicked the track. At some point perhaps someone will want to reissue this title and a studio transfer from the LP can be made (the tapes exist but haven't been tested).
I hope you enjoy this music, and thanks to Phill Musra for granting permission to release this music on the web.
PS: If you are in Los Angeles, Musra plays often at the Heartbeat House and recently performed opposite the Jooklo outfit at San Francisco's Cafe du Nord. A video, not of the greatest quality but still representative, of Musra playing at the Higher Path Collective (in LA) with drummer Don Hooker can be found here. Leonard Brown and Eric Jackson still live in Boston and continue to play (the former is a professor at Northeastern), while Ertunc reportedly has returned to his native Turkey. Jones is no longer performing, to my knowledge, but lives in Oklahoma and continues to compose.