Here's a tune that I composed and play soprano saxophone on. From the 1991 recording by The Balkan Noyz Boyz (Dan Auvil, Allan Cline, Bill Cope, Steve Finney, Ruth Hunter, Kip McAtee). The entire album (originally released on cassette) can be found on Youtube.
I was very flattered when Andy Irvine covered this on his 1996 "Rain on the Roof" album, in a medley with two traditional Balkan tunes. Amusingly, he learned both "Pamela's" and the "Gruncharsko" from a tape I had sent him of a pick-up band that performed one 25-minute set at Mendocino Balkan Camp in 1988, under the name "The Sex Potatoes" (Kip McAtee, Erik Butterworth, Jerry Kisslinger, and me). For historical purposes only, those original versions are provided here. "Pamela's" includes what is possibly the first performance of a Johnny Cash song in a 7/8 rhythm since Earth 1.0 was released.
As of fairly recently, the Andy Irvine recording is available on Youtube. 3 minutes and 29 seconds of my 15 minutes of fame...
I was also flattered when Medna Usta asked me to play kaval with them for a few reunion gigs: the first times they'd performed together since 19...ahem, ahem. Here's an instrumental from a 2014 gig at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley (Dena Bjornlie, Ruth Hunter, Anne Cleveland, Christos Govetas, me). This tune also appears on their "All Dressed Up" recording (it's in a slow 9 rhythm, counted 2223).
TUNE IN PROGRESS (Sep, 2016): I've been meaning (for a Long Time) to compose a few tunes and then record them with some basic overdubbing. Since I've been dragging my feet on actually taking it seriously, I'm going to quickly post a few versions of a piece that is somewhat interesting (at least in the genre of Bulgarian-Celtic tunes in 5/8). The first is a 2-minute live solo improvisation with drum machine, synthesizer chords played with foot pedals, and kaval (Bulgarian end-blown flute). The second is an improv kaval overdub onto the first version. Recorded at home with a small ZOOM digital recorder.
Very preliminary, but I think it has potential as a 3-part tune.
A version of a Punjabi tune played by Brooklyn-based brass band "Red Baraat".
What I assume is the original Punjabi version (by Gurdas Maan). I have no idea of the political context of the video.
The "Golden Record" on the Voyager spacecraft. The ultimate, physically instantiated, "Desert Island Disk". Featuring Valya Balkanska, Chuck Berry ("Send more Chuck Berry"), Bach, Pygmy, Gamelan, Stravinsky, and Blind Willie Johnson, but not the Beatles because EMI objected. There's good info in the Wikipedia article on the Voyager Golden Record, and the following link allows you to play all the content (click on the large round object in the upper left).
The kaval (a Bulgarian end-blown flute) is a very cool instrument, and my friend Nikolay Doktorov is an wonderful player. As far as I know, there is no album-length recording of solo Bulgarian kaval, so in 2019 I decided to create one. Dan Auvil did an amazing job on the artwork, Jerry Summers did an excellent job on the sound and mastering, and Margaret Loomis helped a lot with the liner notes. Alas, no one seems to be interested in physical CDs any more, and CD Baby has shut down their online store. If you're interested in buying one, send me an email (Amazon, and perhaps other web sites, sell the .mp3's).
Here's one of the tracks, followed by an image of the cover. Click to see full CD layout.
Wardell Gray (1921-1955) is one of my favorite saxophone players; here's some miscellaneous trivia and commentary about him.
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Many of the lyrics for the (magnificent!) song "Crown of Creation" (on the 1968 album of the same name) were creatively adapted by the late Paul Kantner from John Wyndham's post-apocalyptic novel "Rebirth".
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