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cover
LP $29.00

12/06/2019

PICK 01 


Saxophonist Lenny Pickett has been a mainstay of the New York music scene for nearly forty years. From his teen years as a member of Tower of Power, to his current decades-long gig as the bandleader for Saturday Night Live, his unique, distinctive sound can be heard on recordings he made with David Bowie, Allen Ginsberg, Madonna, Talking Heads, Walter Hawkins, Link Wray, John Lee Hooker, Betty Davisand Elton John, to give a sampling of hundreds of recordings he’s been involved with.  When he and his wife, dancer Kathy Ray, moved to New York City from the Bay Area in the late '70s the Downtown music scene was just taking off. He has since been involved with many permutations of that scene following that richly innovative time. Bad Dreams, a never-before released recording from 1988, was originally composed as a commission for choreographer Bebe Miller’s dance piece Thick Sleep.  Pickett spent a summer with pencil and paper assembling the score for 72 wind instruments and 16 percussion instruments. Recording began with making percussion loops, assisted by the Fairlight sampling system, at Battery Sound recording studio. Groups of woodwinds, including 36 saxophones (of all sizes), played by Mr. Pickett were then painstakingly recorded at Philip Glass’ studio, The Living Room. The result is pure '80s experimental Downtown NYC new music, a sprawling and grand composition set against rhythmic repetition that shares characteristics with Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals, and the waves of minimalism that were crashing on modern music during that time. The album’s title piece "Bad Dreams" finishes up with an explosion of carnivalesque sonic sensory overload. It is rounded out by two shorter pieces composed around the same time. The haunting blues alto clarinet solo "After Cairo", and the poignant, from-another-time, sarrusophone melody in "Swan Song" are the perfect complement to complete the LP.  Bad Dreams is apiece with the world in which it was conceived; a world in which John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Keith Haring, Julius Eastman, Ornette Coleman, and Max Neuhaus coexisted and interacted with one another. The tapes for Bad Dreams spent 29 years in storage before Pickett decided to give them a life on vinyl. He dug them out, had the recording mastered by Bob Ludwig, and the vinyl cut by Bernie Grundman. Listening now, Bad Dreams has a distinct '80s outlook; from the recording techniques detailed on the back of the LP jacket; to the pure inventiveness of open ended musical possibility. Bad Dreams exists only on vinyl, by Pickett’s direction.

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