Todd Capp Discography
as a leader:
Paris Frere (2016, Noncept)
Livingston Sur (2015, s/p)
by John Pietaro
Though Paris Frère was recorded in Brooklyn, the sounds captured could almost be derived from an ancient Nordic culture that predicted avant trends. But the assemblage doesn’t do ‘world music’; this release casts a secret night journey into the avant heart of new music. And you’ll want to pay close attention to the content lest it envelop you like an aural haunting.
Drummer/leader Todd Capp directs this brilliant ensemble securely from behind. His musicianship is exported often times through what he does not play. This has been written before about such rare drummers, but Capp creates boiling points at pianissimo as needed, with marked tacits to increase tension. Stinger accents via muted cymbals or atmospheric rimshots allow the mind’s ear to fill in the rest. Or not. Capp experimented early on with prime movers of the AACM in Chicago early on with prime movers of the AACM in Chicago before becoming embedded in his native NY’s Downtown ‘80s hotbed. In Mystery Train, Capp’s contrapuntal drumming works in startling accord with Kurt Ralske’s yearning, adventurous cornet, Watson Jennison’s beautifully pained reeds and flute (and drums on one track), Andrew Lafkas’ driving bass and the deep gray tapestries generated by Gao Jiafeng or Michael A. Holmes, alternating spots on electronics. Add the otherworldly voice tracks of Jiafeng and the music crosses into other places, other times. Modal phrases, pedalcentered basslines, echoey cornet and timpani mallets rolling across toms offers something of an ECM vibe, yet there is an urgency that cuts to the core of free jazz: a revolutionary declaration of sound. The restless foray of Paris Frère may begin on the continent but quickly disappears into the highlands of the East and out. This is visceral music. Capp and company, through five bold pieces, would deny you the opportunity ever to categorize Mystery Train.
Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter
TODD CAPP'S MYSTERY TRAIN
Paris Frere (Noncept 101; USA)
Featuring Kurt Ralske on cornet & production, Watson Jennison on soprano sax & flutes,Andrew Lafkas on bass and Todd Capp on drums plus Gao Jiafeng or Michael A. Holmes on electronics (each on different tracks). Somewhere beneath the usual radar there are several underground scenes going on in the vast Downtown community. Longtime free/jazz drummer Todd Capp released a rare CD by the Improvising Orchestra (with Ray Anderson, William Parker & Arthur Williams) from 1978 some 20 years later. Since releasing that disc in the midnineties, Mr. Capp has resurfaced and recorded with younger improvisers like Steve Gauci, Matt Lavelle and John Hagen. Mr. Capp continues to find and collaborate with other likeminded sonic explorers from scenes known and unknown. Recently Capp organized a quintet with my old pal Kurt Ralske (former guitarist for Dissipated Face, Ultra Vivid & Suburban Bohemia), an underrecognized reeds player from Canada (who has worked with Capp previously), Andrew Lafkas (Bill Dixon & several of his own projects) plus two rather obscure (to me) electronics players. The results are an intriguing and challenging blend. The music is an odd, hypnotic, eerie, slow moving and suspensefilled. Ghostlike flute(s) or soprano sax, cornet, bass and distant electronics with Mr. Capp's mysterious malletwork at the center. This music has an alien sounding presence and seems to be coming from another dimension. It is a bit disorienting at times and takes some time to get used to. Mr. Ralske, who composed, performed & produced three successful records for the 4AD label in the nineties, under the name of Ultra Vivid Scene, quit music until recently yet remains a fine producer. He does a swell job here of keeping things in focus so that the Mystery Train is more balanced and never gets completely off the track. The sound of the two horns, eerie bowed bass and completely off the track. The sound of the two horns, eerie bowed bass and sublime malletwork is superbly captured. It is not so easy to take a successful snapshot of ghosts in flight but this is what we have here. Hopefully this disc will not go unnoticed since it is one of the best examples of cosmic music I've heard in recent memory. Take a ride on the Mystery Train and spend time in another world of strange sounds.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
TODD CAPP & THE IMPROVISING ORCHESTRA Vol. 1 : Mi>Quintessence
Although I attended dozens of loft jazz gigs throughout second half of the 70's, there were so many new players coming to town all the time, that I did miss a few gigs & musicians. Drummer & organizer Todd Capp was one such name that I can't recall. Todd lived in & ran a loft on Reade St. and formed an improv ensemble in the fall of '78. This historic cd/session comes from one such gig in November of that year at the BragrTimes/Tanglewood Gallery downtown. Half of the players here are ones whose names I now know Ray Anderson, William Parker & Rashid Bakr, yet the other amazing players include names I don't recognize Arthur Williams on trumpet, James Lott on alto sax, Kim Starner on el. guitar and Augustus Goertz on percussion. The liner notes tell the stories of these musicians then and since, but it is the free spirited music of this long lost gem that really will still blow some minds. Even twenty years back, William Parker was still pumping the bass like a man possessed, pushing the soloist up toward the heavens! In many ways, this music is timeless, this sounds like it could've been from any decade from the 60's onwards. The unknown players are especially a revelation Arthur Williams' trumpet, James Lott's alto and Kim Starner's el. guitar all play immense, startling and intense solos. Kim, who now lives in Greece and plays oud, pushes the envelope here from thick noisy shards to quiet jazzy reflections. Much of this reminds me of the 'Wildflower Sessions' five lp set, recorded at Sam Rivers' loft Studio Rivbea, most of which I attended. This is a cosmic slice of history to be cherished by out/jazz lovers worldwide! $14.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG Newsletter 36
Todd Capp has released his Improvising Orchestra’s Volume I: Quintessence [Lucky Tiger Discovery Series LT 10013, 58:24, 1999] twenty years after the fact, and in a time where every scrap of anything good or bad is issued, we have Capp to thank for this exciting 1978 performance, dated sound be damned. We get to hear an early William Parker, his bass a fulcrum (Capp’s word, by phone) for the piece, as strong as presence as he is now, with the exceptional ability to simultananeouly support command yet not dominate. Kim Starner’s guitar surprising calling to mind a cross between Derek Bailey and Bill Frisell; an amazing sound with electronic distortion. We also hear an early but strong Ray Anderson on trombone, and Rashied bakr on drums. A strong part is the percussion/drums trio. Kindly, Capp has trapped each section of the piece, all seven parts, plus the two pieces with commpleted the full concert. The thirtynine minute opener, “You’re One, Too,” is an overlapping series of duets and trios. minute opener, “You’re One, Too,” is an overlapping series of duets and trios. Humbly, Capp’s name is not on the spine, though that’s how I’m filing it on my shelf, permanently. I can’t wait to hear what he’s got for the promised volume two.
- Steve Koenig (La Folia 2:1 August 1999)