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Marc [Cohen] Copland

John Abercrombie
Clint Houston
Jeff Williams
Friends

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CONTENTS
Pages
3/4

2nd edition
January 2015 release
Track listing and credits

Page
5

Producer’s note
2nd edition 2015

Pages
9/10

Graphics
1st edition, spring 1973

Pages
11-25

Liner notes and
biographies

Pages
35-38

Ephemera

Page
39

Oblivion Records
Discography

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Marc [Cohen] Copland
John Aberbrombie • Clint Houston • Jeff Williams
Oblivion Records OD-3

2nd edition, Released January 2015

1. 5/8 Tune
2. Black Vibrations
3. Nursery Rhyme
4. Loose Tune

Recorded by Fred Seibert, December, 1972 in New York City
Released Sping 1973 Cover design: Frank Olinsky www.frankolinsky.com
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Credits, 2nd edition, 2015

Marc [Cohen] Copland
John Abercrombie
Clint Houston
Jeff Williams
Friends
1. 5/8 Tune †
By Marc [Cohen] Copeland

Marc [Cohen] Copland:
electric alto sax, ††add tenor sax
John Abercrombie: 6 string guitar,
*12 string guitar, ††no guitar
Jeff Williams: drums
Clint Houston:
fretted bass, †acoustic bass

Maralco, ASCAP

2. Black Vibrations *
By Clint Houston
Tolltone, BMI

3. Nursery Rhyme
By Marc [Cohen] Copeland &
John Abercrombie
Maralco, ASCAP

4. Loose Tune ††
By Marc [Cohen] Copeland
Maralco, ASCAP

Original LP Credits, 1973

Recorded December 1972, by successful
exploitation of Columbia University’s WKCR. To
everyone who has ever been there, thanks folks.
Produced by Marc Cohen and Fred Seibert
Engineering: Fred Seibert
Brains behind the engineering: Don Zimmerman
Microphones behind the brains: Marc Seiden
Pal: David Reitman
Graphics: the Oblivionettes co-starring
Sue DeLaney
Photography: Trebor Trepla, Fred Seibert,
and Robert Alpert (Mark Focus Jr.)
Advice: Don Grolnick, Michael Altshuler,
and Lisa Lenovitz
This record was made possible with the assistance
of the Dick Pennington Electric Saxophone Foundation. Tubby wisdom given by Tom Pomposello.

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Producer’s note, 2nd edition
I first came across Marc Copland (then
with his birth name, Marc Cohen) as a
Columbia University musical star when
I was asked to record a concert of some
his big band arrangements on campus in
1971. Later that year I caught him downtown playing in drummer Chico Hamilton’s band. But we didn’t really know
each other when May 1972 when he
showed up with a trio at our college
station, WKCR-FM, for a live performance on David Reitman’s “Journey to
the End of the Night.”
The group –Marc’s alto saxophone,
bassist Glen Moore, and drummer Jeff
Williams– seemed like another modern
acoustic jazz trio –no chorded
instrument– until I got confused
when I was asked to put a microphone
for an amplifier, and Marc started
wailing, sounding more like an “acid
rock” guitarist than any alto player I’d
ever heard. Then they hit the first tune.
What???!!!
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The beautiful howls that came out of
this band reminded me more of what
was happening with John McLaughlin
on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Tony
Williams’ Lifetime than an alto trio that,
say, Jackie McLean might lead. The fluidity of his harmonic concepts with the
overlay of the electronic distortions, on
top of the pulsing of a jazz-like rhythm

blew my ears out, only in the best way.
Finally, someone who’d grown up with
the same rock’n’roll as my generation,
overlaid on the sophistication of the jazz
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I was discovering.

not yet road tested new Scully stereo
recorders that had replaced our worn
Immediately after the midnight session
Ampex’s and hit the first take. The quarI rushed into the studio asking Marc if I
tet was a richer sound –it helped that the
could release the tracks on my new label, studio had been rebuilt with acoustic
Oblivion Records. Our first two releastiling– and Marc and the band had cleares had been country blues (my partner,
ly worked out some of the compositions’
Tom Pomposello, was the bluesman) but complexities.
I was itching to get into the jazz I loved.
Which honestly, I thought would be
The music was amazing, everything I’d
more in the post Ornette Coleman/John
hoped for after the May trios. Intricate,
Coltrane/Cecil Taylor avant-garde styles but memorable melodies, soaring improI was leaning towards in those days. But visations, rhythm that got to the bottom
this Marc Cohen stuff was something
of the funk, with the rise of jazz
else –electric jazz!– and I wanted
cadences. The world was waiting for
Oblivion in on the revolution.
Marc Cohen.
Marc was game –he hadn’t yet had a release under his leadership– but for reasons only known to him, he wasn’t happy enough with the performances and
asked for a chance to come back another
time for an official session.
We gathered again in December 1972
with Clint Houston on bass and electric
bass, and now with John Abercrombie
added on electric guitar. I fired up the
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We got some amazing reviews: Jazz
Forum called it “the electronic jazz
record of the year!” Crawdaddy thought
it was “a promising indication of things
to come as more and more young musicians move into the realm of New
Electric Music.” Even the more of less
traditionalist jazz bible DownBeat gave
the record 5 stars and said “Cohen has
transformed the electric sax from a
gimmick to a concept in instrumentation
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with its own identity and horizons.”
Why didn’t the record make more of a
splash? Was it that Marc didn’t want it to
be a leader-ed album, opting for a generic group title “Friends?” Or that I made
a cover choice that seemed like a good
idea at the time, but probably put off
more potential buyers than it attracted?
Or was it that our label was “the enigma
of enigmas” as DownBeat tried to compliment us?

along with his last name– a true visionary composer and improvisor. I’m happy
Oblivion Records was there to catch the
seed that’s grown into what DownBeat’s
Bill Milkowski now describes when he
says Marc Copland always seeks a place
in music that takes him somewhere beyond the notes.” Amen.
The recording

Columbia University’s WKCR-FM was
built as a traditional radio studio, for
It was all that and more. Mainly, the
recording announcers and interviews,
Oblivion Records’ “management” team’s not instruments. As the 1970s began,
entrepreneurial inexperience.
college graduate, music writer, and DJ
David Reitman asked me to engineer
Friends ended up as one of those cult
more than the occasional drop in musical
LPs, the kind of “missing link” in the
guest until we were probably recording
development of what should have been
45 or 50 performances a year. Soon, we
the kind of positive musical disruption
convinced the station’s student Board
that united the ambitious rock listener
of Directors to hit up the University for
with the progressive jazz fan, and infunds to rebuild one of satellite rooms
stead descended in the the swamp known into one that was more fitting to music
as “fusion.” Truly too bad.
than just voices.
Marc Cohen Copland was –and is, since
he switched his allegiance to the piano,
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As the engineer of more than 90% of
KCR’s live performances I couldn’t have
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been more thrilled make Marc Cohen
Copland’s Friends the maiden voyage
of the new studio in December of 1972.

Damn!), a newly built and wired
recording board with simple left-center right switching and no equaliztion
(I knew nothing about actual electronics, just sound. Thank you Andy Setos,
Chuck Weger, Don Zimmerman, and
the whole engineering school crew.) we
were ready to go.
Things sounded great. In part, thanks to
Marc’s Joffrey Ballet day gig buddy,
pianist Don Grolnick, who “consulted.”
When I was reviewed the tapes afterwards, it was quite clear that the new
wiring was not quite… um, perfect. The
left channel was dropping in and out of
a few of the masters. After a bit of panic,
I figured out a way to remix the takes so
it wasn’t noticeable. At least, that was
my most fervent hope. I didn’t want to
embarrass myself in front of those older
(they were three years my senior),
professional musicians.

Pristine Scully stereo decks (there was
no way we could convince anyone to
fund us four or eight track recorders.
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Our pressing plant in Phoenix recieved
the tapes, mastered them on site, and
never mentioned anything was amiss.
Whew!
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virtually every student on campus had at
least one $2.50 “Sam” on their wall.
I had the bright idea that since Marc
Cohen was a Columbia College
graduate, I was a College student, and
we were recording at the Columbia
radio station, what would be better than
a beautifully rendered and colored (by
Sam’s sister Pauline) painting by our
resident genius. Marc had no objections
that I can recall 40 some odd years later.
The Album Cover
Sam Steinberg was a legendary
“outsider” artist on the Columbia
University campus who, in the 1930s,
started traveling from the Bronx with his
mother by three subways to sell
candy bars to students. You can read
more about him elsewhere in this
booklet.

Sam was another story. He didn’t
understand what I meant by a record
cover, so he painted two cats inside of
record shape, and stuck another off to
the side, never to waste an inch of illustration board. When asked what he

Sometime in the 60s Sam was inspired
to paint cats and “boids,” eventually
branching out to snakes, flowers, and
even Elvis Presley. By the 1970s
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wanted to be paid he said $2.50 as
always, and was completely confused
when I gave him a ten, and insisted on
buying him the new shoes he said he
wanted. (Within a week he was back to
his old shoes into which he’d stuffed
newspaper to make them fit properly.)
It’s an understatement to say that the
cover was received badly. My partner
rolled his eyes at me. People snickered
directly to my face. Distributors and
retailers often refused to stock the record, even with glowing reviewed we
received. I understand it didn’t fit the
preconceptions of an album cover.
But, it was the 70s, the age of
stunning and progressive LP designs.
I honestly thought we had one. I guess
I was wrong, but honestly, I love it.
I still love Sam Steinberg’s paintings.
–Fred Seibert

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1st edition: Spring 1973
Front cover
Oblivion Records, Vinyl LP
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Illustration: Sam Steinberg
Design: Fred Seibert
Logo: Lisa Lenovitz Eaton
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1st edition: Spring 1973
Back liner and record labels
Vinyl LP
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Layout: Fred Seibert
Typesetting: Columbia University Spectator
Printing & Pressing: Wakefield Manufacturing,
Phoenix, Arizona
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From Wikipedia, 2016
Marc Copland (born May 27, 1948, as
Marc Cohen) is an American jazz pianist
and composer.

From the original liner, 1st edition,
Spring 1973
Marc Cohen is from Philadelphia home
of all good saxophonists. He has played
with Chico Hamilton and was with
Dreams for a short time. His alto
saxophone is modified by an octave
divider, two wah-wah pedals, a
fuzz-tone, and a tape echo box. His
tenor sax is quite ordinary.

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Copland became part of the jazz scene
in Philadelphia in the early 1960s as a
saxophonist, and later moved to New
York City, where he experimented with
electric alto saxophone. In the early
1970s, while pursuing his own harmonic concept, he grew dissatisfied with
what he felt were inherent limitations in
the saxophone and moved to the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area, where he
remained for a decade to retrain as a jazz
pianist.
He returned to New York in the mid1980s, his own keyboard style firmly
in place. Since that time Copland has
enjoyed considerable success, both as a
solo performer and a group leader.
Early years
Copland was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began taking piano lessons
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at age seven, but stopped abruptly at the
age of ten when his public school offered
the option of saxophone training. Beginning his career on alto sax, Copland
became part of a vibrant music scene in
his hometown in the early 1960s, learning and playing with Michael Brecker, a
close friend and fellow high school student. In 1965 he briefly studied harmony
with Romeo Cascarino in Philadelphia
and also began training in composition
with Meyer Kupferman and studied saxophone with Joseph Allard, both in New
York.
In 1966, Copland moved to New York
City, where he attended Columbia University. He became part of a late 1960s
and early 1970s New York jazz scene
that expanded from the traditional clubs
into lofts around the city. During this
period, Copland was, along with John
Abercrombie and Glen Moore, a member of the Chico Hamilton Quartet. He
experimented by adding electronic processors to his alto, culminating in the
recording of Friends, an electric jazz album produced by a small New York City
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start-up label, Oblivion Records. This
album, with Abercrombie, Clint Houston, and Jeff Williams, achieved a kind
of cult status, earning a five-star review
in DownBeat magazine.
Increasingly, however, Copland was
writing music with more complex chords
that suggested to him an approach to
music very different from his acoustic
and electronic saxophone work. He came
to feel that as an instrument, the saxophone was not a suitable vehicle to fully express his musical imagination. By
1973, he had decided to switch to piano.
For the next decade, Copland labored in
Washington, D.C. and Baltimore in relative obscurity while mastering his new
instrument. During this period he underwent a kind of apprenticeship, playing with well-known musicians passing
through the area who asked for him as an
accompanist. Backing up different musicians one week to the next, he worked
with artists such as Randy Brecker, Bob
Berg, Hank Crawford, Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Tom Harrell, Eddie Harris,
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Harold Land and Blue Mitchell, Dave
Liebman, Bob Mintzer, Gary Peacock,
and Sonny Stitt. During this time he also
led his own bands in local clubs, playing
with many of the musicians who lived
and worked in the area. One of these,
bassist Drew Gress, later moved to New
York and over the years has become one
of Copland’s chief musical collaborators.
Mid 80s/Early 90s
In the early 1980s, Copland returned to
New York. For a time he returned weekly to Washington to continue private
teaching and a steady trio engagement,
but after a couple of years these regular
visits tapered off in favor of more extensive work in New York City. During this
period he worked with Bob Belden, Jane
Ira Bloom, Joe Lovano, Herbie Mann,
James Moody (with whom he toured for
three years), John Scofield, Jim Snidero, and Dave Stryker. A busy sideman,
he began to appear with his own bands
in local clubs, but remained unrecorded as a leader. Acting on a tip that the
Japanese label Jazz City was searching
for ten American pianists, Copland sent
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an audition tape to guitarist/producer
Yoshiake Masuo. After listening, the producer called Copland to decline, saying
that the label had already reached agreement with ten pianists. A few weeks later
Masuo called back to say one pianist had
dropped out, and offered Copland his first
record deal. My Foolish Heart, Copland’s debut disc as leader, was recorded
at “The Studio” in Soho, and Copland
went on to record two other CDs with the
label:
• My Foolish Heart/Jazz City, 1988
(John Abercrombie, Gary Peacock, Jeff
Hirshfield)
• All Blues At Night/Jazz City, 1992
(Tim Hagans, Peacock, Bill Stewart)
• Songs Without End/Jazz City Spirit,
1994 (duets with Ralph Towner)
Copland apparently liked the sound at
“The Studio” because he recorded several
albums there in the following years.
His local trio and quartet gigs and were
now more frequent, and as word of his
trio spread, he began to play regularly at
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several venues around the United States,
first with Peacock and drummer Bill
Stewart, and later, when Stewart was no
longer with the original trio, with Billy
Hart. This last trio made two albums:
• At Night/Sunnyside, 1992 (Gary
Peacock and Billy Hart)
• Paradiso/Soul Note, 1995 (Gary
Peacock and Billy Hart)
Mid-1990s to 2000
In the 1990s, on the recommendation of
Peter Erskine and John Abercrombie,
Copland recorded with Vince Mendoza,
in the process making the acquaintance
of Japanese producer Takao Ogawa.
A few years later Ogawa and Copland
bumped into each other in a New York
studio, agreeing to meet to discuss recording possibilities. Ogawa subsequently organized and produced Stompin’
with Savoy (Savoy), featuring an all-star
quintet including fellow Philadelphian
Randy Brecker and Bob Berg. Because
of the limited distribution in the U.S. of
his previous CDs, this release effectively became Copland’s American debut.
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It garnered high praise in the American
press, which cited his unique way of
re-interpreting the standard repertoire, an
approach which was widely copied by
younger musicians later in the decade.
The release led to three years of touring
with the quintet in major clubs around
the country. Savoy recorded three other
albums, as well as a fourth CD that was
never released.
• Stompin’ with Savoy/Savoy, 1995
(Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, James Genus,
Dennis Chambers)
• Second Look/Savoy, 1996 (John
Abercrombie, Drew Gress, Billy Hart)
• Softly/Savoy, 1998 (Michael Brecker,
Tim Hagans, Joe Lovano, Gary Peacock,
Bill Stewart)
• Untitled/Savoy, unreleased (Drew
Gress, Bill Stewart, Jochen Rueckert)
Softly, like the other Savoy albums, was
praised for its originality and sophistication, but also received special attention
for its presentation of a unified album
concept.

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The early 2000s
The Savoy jazz catalog was largely inactive in the late 1990s, and for a couple
of years Copland went unrecorded. But
In the mid-nineties Copland had begun
touring Europe with his own groups,
first in duo with John Abercrombie, and
later in trios and quartets. As a result, at
the beginning of the millennium several
European labels took an interest and began to document his work. These recordings solidified his position as a leading
and original voice on his instrument in
various contexts; each disc was greeted
enthusiastically by the press. His work
from 2000 to 2006 can be divided into
solo piano work, duos, trios, and quartets:

unique approach to music:
• Poetic Motion/Sketch, 2001
(Solo piano)
• Time Within Time/Hatology, 2005
(Solo piano)
In Poetic Motion, cross references within Bill Zavatsky’s poem of the same title
and between the poem and the music are
everywhere, increasing the complexity
and richness of the artistic experience.
In Time Within Time Copland wrote his
own verse, which helped unify the theme
of “time” that is present in the CD title,
the cover photograph, and the musical
titles and content.

Duos
Solo piano
For years, the duo in jazz was a rarely
In 2001, French producer Philippe
seen ensemble. Copland concentrated
Ghielmetti heard Copland with his trio
on this somewhat neglected format in
in Paris, and invited him to record his
many of his recordings between 2000 and
debut solo piano album. The album
2005. His partners on the various projects
featured almost all Copland originals.
played diverse instruments, including alto
Three years later, Swiss producer Werner sax, soprano and tenor sax, guitar, bass,
Uehlinger followed suit. The two aland trumpet:
bums helped further establish Copland’s
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• Between the Lines/Steeplechase, 2000
(with Tim Hagans)
• Double Play/Steeplechase, 2001
(with Vic Juris)
Bookends/Hatology, 2002
(with David Liebman)
• Round and Round/Nagel Heyer, 2003
(with Greg Osby)
• Night Call/Nagel Heyer, 2004
(with Greg Osby )
• What it Says/Sketch, 2004
(with Gary Peacock)
A final duo release from this period featured Copland in duets with another pianist with a harmonically advanced bent,
the American Bill Carrothers:
• No Choice/Minium, 2005
(duets with Bill Carrothers)
Trio
Perhaps the album most responsible for
opening the door to wider public acceptance for Copland during the new
millennium was his return to the trio
format with his regular working band of
the period, with Drew Gress on bass and
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Jochen Rueckert on drums. The album
was an application of the pianist’s lyrical bent to the interpretation of ballads,
a song form that lends itself naturally to
his style. The trio developed the rapport
evident on the album through several
years of steady gigs in New York, and
USA and European tours. Another and
very different trio, with Kenny Wheeler
and John Abercrombie, was a meeting
of three individualist instrumentalists
and composers. This latter trio recorded
twice, and also toured Europe
frequently:
• Haunted Heart and Other Ballads/
Hatology, 2001 (Drew Gress, Jochen
Rueckert)
• That’s for Sure/Challenge, 2000
(John Abercrombie, Kenny Wheeler)
• Brand New/Challenge, 2003
(John Abercrombie, Kenny Wheeler)
Quartets
In the nineties, Copland wrote and arranged extensively for his quintet and
quartet; he returned to this format with
four CDs in the 2000s. Each featured a
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• Modinha—NY Trios Vol. 1/Pirouet,
2006 (Gary Peacock, Bill Stewart)
• Voices—NY Trios Vol. 2/Pirouet, 2007
(Gary Peacock, Paul Motian)
• Lunar/Hatology, 2001 (Dave Lieb• Night Whispers-NY Trios Vol. 3/
man, Mike McGuirk, Tony Martucci)
Pirouet, 2008 (Drew Gress, Bill Stewart)
• And…/Hatology, 2003 (Michael
• Another Place/Pirouet, 2008 (John
Brecker, John Abercrombie, Drew Gress, Abercrombie, Drew Gress, Billy Hart)
Jochen Rueckert)
å, 2009 (duo with Gary Peacock)
• Both/And/Nagel Heyer, 2006 (Randy
Alone/Pirouet, 2009 (solo piano)
Brecker, Ed Howard, Victor Lewis)
• Contact/Pirouet, 2010 (Dave Liebman,
John
2006 to 2012
Abercrombie, Gress, Billy Hart)
During this period Copland recorded ex- • Crosstalk/Pirouet, 2011 (Greg Osby,
clusively with the Pirouet label. His out- Doug Weiss, Victor Lewis)
put during this period included mostly
• Speak to Me/Pirouet, 2011 (duo with
trios, but also duos, quartets, and a quin- John Abercrombie)
tet CD. Some Love Songs recalls his
• Some More Love Songs/Pirouet, 2012
earlier ballad disc Haunted Heart, with
(Drew Gress, Jochen Rueckert)
the same trio of Gress and Rueckert.
Beginning with Modinha, the pianist
The release of Modinha gained conembarked on the three-volume “NY Trio siderable attention for its quality, and
Series”; he later returned to the trio of
the trio was frequently cited as having
Gress and Rueckert for “Some More
attained a level that placed it in the first
Love Songs.”
rank of the very best jazz piano trios of
the last several decades. DownBeat mag• Some Love Songs/Pirouet, 2005
azine included Night Whispers on its list
(Drew Gress, Jochen Rueckert)
of the best CDs of the decade.
fourth instrumentalist familiar with
Copland’s way of reworking standards,
and his sense of original composition:

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2013 to the present
In 2013, Copland became pianist in both
John Abercrombie’s quartet and Gary
Peacock’s “Now This” trio. These bands
both recorded for ECM:
• 39 Steps/ECM, 2013 (John Abercrombie, Copland, Drew Gress, Joey Baron)
• Now This/ECM, 2014 (Gary Peacock,
Copland, Joey Baron)
In 2015 Copland recorded the initial
release on his own new label, Innervoice
Jazz:

Copland continues to be an exemplar of
the lyrical school of jazz pianism. His
music, often noted for its innovative harmonic language, nevertheless is widely
regarded as easily accessible to the listener. Many reviewers credit this blend
to the pianist’s use of dynamics and
touch, and his distinctive pedal work.
His thirty-five releases make him perhaps the most prolific jazz pianist of the
new millennium.

• Zenith/Innervoice Jazz, 2015 (Copland, Ralph Alessi Drew Gress, Joey
Baron)

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tinued through numerous recordings and
live performances until 1986. It was a
fruitful period in Houston’s career, and
encompassed the release of both his recordings under his own name, but he will
be remembered chiefly as a supportive
and always stimulating bassist for a succession of eminent leaders.

From the original liner, 1st edition,
Spring 1973
Clint Houston (Born: June 26, 1946 in
New Orleans, Louisiana; Died: June 6,
2000) has been the bassist for numerous
groups including those of Roy Ayers,
Woody Shaw, Herbie Mann, Sonny
Greenwich, Charles Tolliver, and Art
Blakey (whew) and is now playing with
Jack DeJohnette’s new group.
From JazzHouse.org
Clint Houston was probably best known
for his long association with pianist Joanne Brackeen, which began in the Stan
Getz Quartet in the mid-1970s, and conOD-3

He was born Clinton Joseph Houston in
New Orleans, but the family moved north
to Washington, DC, when he was three,
and then to New York City in 1953. His
father played classical piano and his sister guitar, but his own inclinations led
him to the acoustic bass. He studied with
Ron Carter, then the bassist in Miles
Davis’s legendary quintet, in 1964-66,
and also studied piano and harmony at
Queen’s College in New York, a foundation he put to good use in his playing. He
studied graphic art for a time as well, but
eventually settled on music.
In the late 1960s he was part of the house
band with pianist George Cables and
drummer Lenny White, both boyhood
friends of his, at the infamous Slugs, a
saloon which was friendly to the developOblivion Records 21

ing free jazz scene as well as more conventional styles. He gained a valuable
grounding there, and had the chance to
work with a diverse range of players and
styles.
His playing began to attract notice, and
he worked with Nina Simone in 1969,
and with drummer Roy Haynes in 196970, before linking up with a group of
musicians, including saxophonist Dave
Liebman, to form Free Life Communications, a collective devoted to promulgating free jazz.
He worked in a variety of styles, including spells with vibraphonist Roy
Ayers (1971-73), trumpeter Charles
Tolliver (1973-75), and trombonist Kai
Winding (1975), before joining the Stan
Getz Quartet (1975-77). He met Joanne
Brackeen in that band, and recorded several albums with her, as well as featuring
the pianist on both of his own records,
Watership Down (Storyville, 1978) and
Inside the Plain of The Elliptic (Timeless, 1979).
Although he did not really build on that
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impetus as a leader (few bass players
have the opportunity to maintain that
kind of momentum), Houston continued
to work with prominent names in jazz,
including a spell with Woody Shaw in
1977-79, during which the trumpeter recorded some of Houston’s compositions.
He played in a variety of settings in the
1980s and 1990s, ranging from duo to
large ensembles, with musicians like
trombonist Slide Hampton, saxophonists Pepper Adams, Frank Foster, Hamiet
Bluiett and John Stubblefield, and pianists Roland Hanna and John Hicks,
among many others. He joined drummer
Louis Hayes as bassist and musical director in 1989, and worked with him into the
mid-1990s, recording several discs in the
process.
Houston’s name on a record sleeve was
always a guarantee of supple and imaginative bass playing, whether laying
down impeccable time in a conventional
setting, or pursuing a more adventurous
form of creative interplay. The illness
which led to his premature death had
curtailed his activities in recent times.
Oblivion Records 22

a guide, he started playing gigs with local
professionals at age fourteen. Jeff’s mother, Ann Williams, moved to New York
to pursue a jazz singing career when he
was nine, introducing him to a number of
musicians who would be his early mentors, including drummers Jo Jones, Herb
Lovelle, Elvin Jones, and Oliver Jackson.
In 1967 Jeff made his recording debut
with the psychedelic group Ant Trip
Ceremony (Cicadelic).

From the original liner, 1st edition,
Spring 1973
Jeff Williams comes from (now don’t all
swoon girls) Oberlin, Ohio. He played
for a time with Stan Getz and is currently
the drummer with tenor saxophonist
Dave Liebman.
From willfulmusic.com, 2016
Jeff Williams was raised in Oberlin,
Ohio where he began playing drums at
age eight. Self-taught, with the aid of his
parents’ collection of jazz recordings as
OD-3

In 1968 Jeff entered the Berklee College
of Music and studied drumming with
Alan Dawson. In 1971 he moved to New
York and soon became acquainted with
Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach, with
whom he would form the group Lookout
Farm. In 1972 Jeff joined Stan Getz for
a two-year stay in groups that included
Dave Holland on bass and pianists Hal
Galper, Beirach, and Albert Daily. He appeared at the Half Note with Lee Konitz
the same year, beginning an association
that would continue for several decades.
Jeff also recorded Friends (Oblivion) in
1972 with Marc Cohen (now Copland),
John Abercrombie, and Clint Houston.
Oblivion Records 23

Following the recording of Lookout
Farm (ECM) in 1973 Jeff toured Europe, Asia, and the US while also participating in multiple subsequent recordings
until the group disbanded in 1976. For
the remainder of the ‘70s Jeff freelanced
in and around New York, accompanying
such artists as Joe Farrell, Frank Foster, Nick Brignola, Billy Mitchell, and
George Coleman, while also performing
in groups led by Arnie Lawrence (Treasure Island), Ted Curson, Richard Sussman, and Albert Daily, as well as leading
a band that included John Scofield.
After a one-year hiatus in Maine, Jeff
moved to Boston in 1981. While resuming study with Alan Dawson, Jeff took
part in the formation of a jazz series at
Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding
Club. There he accompanied Cedar
Walton, Lee Konitz, Milt Hinton, (saxophonist) Bill Evans, John Scofield, and
Miroslav Vitous. From ‘83 to ‘86 Jeff
performed and recorded with Jerry Bergonzi’s quartet Con Brio. Following a
return to New York in 1983 Jeff formed
the trio Interplay with Peter Madsen and
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Anthony Cox, toured Japan with pianist
Sakurako Ogyu and Marc Johnson, while
also performing with Michel Petrucciani, Art Farmer/Clifford Jordan, Randy
Brecker/John Abercrombie, and Cecil
McBee’s quartet. For the majority of
1988 Jeff played with Stan Getz, joined
by the Interplay rhythm section, with
Kenny Barron later replacing Madsen. In
1990 Jeff initiated a music policy at Bar
Room 432, located in the meatpacking
district of New York, where he led a trio
with Ben Monder and Scott Colley and
also performed with Dave Liebman and
Joe Lovano.
The first release of a Jeff Williams’ composition appeared on Frank Kimbrough’s
Lonely Woman (Mapleshade) in 1989.
The composition, Northwest, also appears
on the Larry Willis recording How Do
You Keep The Music Playing? (SteepleChase). Jeff began writing for his own
ensembles in the mid-eighties, recording
Quartet (unreleased) in ‘89 with Patrick
Zimmerli, Kevin Hays, and Scott Colley. Enlarged to a quintet in 199, with the
addition of Tim Ries, and the replacement
Oblivion Records 24

of Colley with Doug Weiss, the ensemble released two recordings, both comprised entirely of original compositions:
Coalescence (SteepleChase) in 1992 and
Jazzblues (Cathexis) in 1999.
Jeff’s other activities during the nineties
includedappearances in the US, Europe,
Brazil, and Argentina, as well as various
recordings, with Lee Konitz; a tour of
Europe with Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell,
and Anthony Cox; and several tours of
Europe and the US with Lovano’s Universal Language sextet. In addition to
performances with Circadian Rhythms,
featuring Tony Malaby and Michael Formanek, Jeff also began playing with Bill
McHenry, Ethan Iverson, and Reid
Anderson, subsequently recording Live
At Smalls (Fresh Sound/New Talent) in
2000, and McHenry’s Sonic Pressure
(Fresh Sound/New Talent) in 2005.
Jeff toured Europe with Paul Bley in
2001.

McHenry (2005), Lee Konitz (2006),
and Dave Liebman (in a quartet coled by British guitarist Phil Robson--2008-09). During 2006-09
Jeff performed throughout Britain with
saxophonist Martin Speake and pianist
Bobo Stenson in support of Speake’s
Change of Heart (ECM). He has also
appeared in the UK with Nikki Iles,
Hans Koller’s ensemble (with guest soloists Kenny Wheeler, Bob Brookmeyer,
and Evan Parker), Christine Tobin,
Bobby Wellins, Julian Arguelles, Ingrid
Laubrock, Barry Green, Julian Siegel,
Norma Winstone, Kit Downes, Olie
Brice, Alex Merritt, Mike Fletcher and
Alex Bonney. Recent activities have
included a 50+ date tour with Martin
Speake and Mike Outram in support of
the CD Always a First Time, additional
touring with John O’Gallagher, Francois
Théberge, Sam Lasserson, and a reunion
tour with Tony Malaby organized by
bassist Olie Brice.

For the last decade Jeff has been dividing his timebetween New York and
London. He has toured the UK with Bill

Jeff’s recent recordings include Richard
Sussman’s Continuum, featuring Randy Brecker and Jerry Bergonzi (Origin),

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Oblivion Records 25

Hans Koller with Bill Frisell’s
Cry Want (psi), Martin Speake’s Live
At Riverhouse (Pumpkin) and Always
a First Time (Pumpkin), UK with Bill
McHenry (2005), Lee Konitz (2006),
and Dave Liebman (in a quartet coled by British guitarist Phil Robson--2008-09). During 2006-09
Jeff performed throughout Britain with
saxophonist Martin Speake and pianist
Bobo Stenson in support of Speake’s
Change of Heart (ECM). He has also
appeared in the UK with Nikki Iles,
Hans Koller’s ensemble (with guest soloists Kenny Wheeler, Bob Brookmeyer, and Evan Parker), Christine Tobin,
Bobby Wellins, Julian Arguelles, Ingrid
Laubrock, Barry Green, Julian Siegel,
Norma Winstone, Kit Downes, Olie
Brice, Alex Merritt, Mike Fletcher and
Alex Bonney. Recent activities have
included a 50+ date tour with Martin
Speake and Mike Outram in support of
the CD Always a First Time, additional
touring with John O’Gallagher, Francois
Théberge, Sam Lasserson, and a reunion
tour with Tony Malaby organized by
bassist Olie Brice.
OD-3

Jeff’s UK Quintet (Finn Peters-alto saxophone and flute, Josh Arcoleo-tenor
saxophone, Phil Robson-guitar, Sam
Lasserson-bass) has appeared
for three years in a row at the London
Jazz Festival and recorded live at the
Amazonas Jazz Festival in July 2013.
The limited release CD, Concert In
The Amazon, is available from this site
and at live performances only. The second release on Williams’ Willful
Archives label is called Valence and
features the trio of Jeff, John
O’Gallagher and Sam Lasserson
from a live performance in Switzerland.
2015 and 16 have seen the Jeff Williams’
British based group touring the UK before and after the band recorded
Outlier, Jeff’s third release on the
Whirlwind label. The album features
Josh Arocoleo, Phil Robson, Kit Downes
and Sam Lasserson, while John O’Gallager has recently been added in live
performances. Other on-going
projects include Jeff’s partcipation
in bands led by Alex Merritt, Mike
Fletcher, Olie Brice, Martin Speake and
Oblivion Records 26

Hans Koller.
In addition to private instruction, Jeff has
givenmaster classes, directed ensembles
and undertaken one-to-one drum instruction at The New School, Long Island
University, the University of Connecticut, and Maine Jazz Camp. In the UK he
currently teaches at the Royal Academy
Of Music and a Birmingham Conservatoire.
“I’ve known Jeff Williams since the
early 1970s, both as a musician and
friend. His wealth of experience is staggering and very deep. His unique spirit
is something all jazz students should be
exposed to.”
-Dave Liebman
Jeff Williams is a Zildjian artist.

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Oblivion Records 27

From JohnAbercrombie.com, 2016
Over a career spanning more than 40
years and nearly 50 albums, John
Abercrombie has established himself as
one the masters of jazz guitar. Favoring
unusual sounds (he played electronic
mandolin on McCoy Tyner’s 1993 album
4x4) and nontraditional ensembles (recent
quartet recordings have included violinist
Mark Feldman), Abercrombie is a restless
experimenter, working firmly in the jazz
tradition while pushing the boundaries of
meter and harmony.”
From the original liner, 1st edition,
Spring 1973
John Abercrombie has played and recorded with Dreams, Chico Hamilton,
Barry Miles, Gil Evans and is along with
Clint in Jack DeJohnette’s band. On
side one his guitar sounds from the left
channel. He is on the right channel for
“Nursery Rhyme” and on “Loose Tune”
he isn’t.

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Born on December 16, 1944 in Port
Chester, New York, Abercrombie grew
up in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he
began playing the guitar at age 14. Like
many teenagers at the time, he started
out imitating Chuck Berry licks. But it
was the bluesy music of Barney Kessel
that attracted him to jazz. Abercrombie
enrolled at Boston’s Berklee College of
Music and teamed up with other students
to play local clubs and bars. One of those
clubs, Paul’s Mall, was connected to a
larger club next door, the Jazz Workshop,
Oblivion Records 28

where Abercrombie ducked in during
his free time to watch John Coltrane and
Thelonious Monk.
Abercrombie’s appearances at Paul’s
Mall led to several fortuitous meetings.
Organist Johnny Hammond Smith spotted the young Abercrombie and invited
him to go on tour while he was still a
student. During the same period,
Abercrombie also met the Brecker
Brothers, who invited him to become
a new part of their group Dreams, which
would become one the prominent jazzrock bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Abercrombie appears on the
group’s eponymous debut album.
After graduating from Berklee,
Abercrombie headed to New York,
where he quickly became one of New
York’s most in-demand session players.
He recorded with Gil Evans, Gato
Barbieri, and Barry Miles, to name a
few. He was also a regular with Chico
Hamilton’s group.
But it was in Billy Cobham’s band,
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which also featured the Brecker brothers,
that Abercrombie first started to build a
following. He was featured on several of
Cobham’s albums, including
Crosswinds, Total Eclipse and
Shabazz, all of which staked new
ground in fusion jazz. The group was
booked into large concert halls and
arenas, appearing on bills with such top
rock attractions as the Doobie Brothers.
It was not, however, the direction
Abercrombie had hoped his career would
go. “One night we appeared at the Spectrum in Phildelphia and I thought, what
am I doing here?” he said. “It just didn’t
compute.”
In the early 1970s, Abercrombie ran into
Manfred Eicher, who invited him to record for ECM. The result was
Abercrombie’s first solo album,
Timeless, in which he was backed by
Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette.
Abercrombie’s second album, Gateway,
was released in November 1975 with
DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland; a
second Gateway recording was released
in June 1978.
Oblivion Records 29

He then moved on to a traditional quartet
format, recording three albums on ECM-Arcade, Abercrombie Quartet, and
M--with pianist Richie Beirach, bassist
George Mraz and drummer Peter
Donald. “It was extremely important
to have that group for many reasons,”
Abercrombie told AAJ in 2004. “It
was, of course, a good band, but it was
also my first opportunity to really be a
leader and to write consistently for the
same group of musicians.”
His second group, a trio with bassist
Marc Johnson and drummer Peter
Erskine, marked the first time he experimented with the guitar synthesizer. This
gave him the opportunity to play what he
called “louder, more open music” with
a propulsive beat, demonstrated in the
group’s three releases, Getting There
(featuring Michael Brecker) in 1987,
Current Events in 1988, and John Abercrombie, Marc Johnson & Peter
Erskine in 1989.
From there, he moved to partnerships
that he would shuffle and reshuffle for
OD-3

the next 20 years. He reunited with his
“Gateway” bandmembers in 1995 for an
album appropriately titled Homecoming,
but not before forming yet a third ensemble that would make several recordings
together. Abercrombie had long been
enamored with the sound of jazz organ,
so he teamed with organist Dan Wall and
drummer Adam Nussbaum in While We
Were Young and Speak of the Devil
(both 1993) and, in 1997 Tactics. Another album, titled Open Land, added violinist Mark Feldman and saxophonist Joe
Lovano to the mix.
His affiliation with Feldman, in a quartet
that included Marc Johnson and drummer
Joey Barron, ushered in a period of looser, freer, almost improvisatory playing.
“I like free playing that has some relationship to a melody; very much the way
Ornette Coleman used to write all those
wonderful songs and then they would
play without chords on a lot of them,” he
told AAJ. In fact, Abercrombie’s work
from this period has been compared
to chamber music, with its delicacy of
sound and telepathic communication
Oblivion Records 30

between musicians.
Throughout the 1990s and into 2000 and
beyond, Abercrombie has continued to
pluck from the ranks of jazz royalty--and
be plucked for guest appearances on other artists’ recordings. One propitious
relationship was with guitarist, pianist,
and
composer Ralph Towner, with whom
Abercrombie has worked in a duet setting. (Abercrombie has also worked
in guitar duos with John Scofield, for
1993’s Solar and with Joe Beck in
Coincidence, released in 2007).
Abercrombie has also recorded with
saxophonist Jan Garbarek and bassist
Eddie Gomez.
Abercrombie keeps up a heavy touring
schedule and continues to record with
ECM, a relationship that has spanned
more than 30 years. As he told one interviewer, “I’d like people to perceive
me as having a direct connection to the
history of jazz guitar, while expanding
some musical boundaries.” That, no
doubt, will be his legacy.
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Oblivion Records 31

community for his boids, snakes,
moimaids and low prices. His sister
Pauline colors them in.

From the original liner, 1st edition,
Spring 1973
About the cover artist, by Peter Frank
Sam Steinberg is the unofficial artist-in-residence at Columbia University
and the Brox’s contribution to the Art
Brut quasi-movement of Jean Dubuffet.
The 70 year old former ice cream vendor
(he still sells candy bars) work prolifically in magic-marker-on-cardboard, with
occasional forays into magic-marker-oncloth, and is popular with the Columbia
OD-3

From Wikipedia, 2016
Sam Steinberg (1896–1982) was an
American outsider art painter from The
Bronx, New York, called the “unofficial
artist-in-residence” at Columbia
University by Peter Frank (art critic).
His work was “shown” (and sold) exclusively on the Columbia campus, and
his style was one of the first identified
as “outsider,” an approach coined by art
critic Roger Cardinal c. 1972, after Jean
Dubuffet’s art brut.
Suffering from a debilitating hairlessness
disease, atrichia with papular lesions,
Steinberg was classified 4F in both world
wars. In the late 1930s, he and his mother
started visiting Columbia daily to sell
chocolate bars.
Signed with his distinctive cursive signature, “Sam S.,” Steinberg spontaneously
began showing and selling original paintings in 1967. He purchased illustration
Oblivion Records 32

boards and paints from local stationery
stores; eventually shifting to permanent
magic
marker pens. His subjects ranged from
animals to popular culture figures like
Santa Claus and Elvis Presley, but Steinberg’s favorite muses were most certainly his interpretations of cats and “boids.”
After riding three New York City Subway trains to arrive at Columbia, he
was usually carrying three or four fresh

paintings (often as many as 20 per week),
which, during the 1970s sold for $2.50
(rising to $3.50 by 1980). A campus art
institution, it was a rare Columbia College dormitory room that didn’t have
at least one “Sam” hanging up. His one
known example of a commercial use of
his paintings was in 1973, for a jazz
fusion album recorded by a former
Columbia student, Marc Copland (known
in his student days as ‘Marc Cohen’) on
a label, Oblivion Records co-founded by

The original
horizontal
“Sam,”
commissioned
and adapted
for the Friends
12x12 vinyl LP
cover, 1973.

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Oblivion Records 33

another, Fred Seibert. He is known to
have painted at least one large oil, “Judy
in the sky with kitties.” Judy Garland
and Kitties were favorite themes. He
also produced a series of
“miniatures,” priced cheaper than his
larger paintings. A hallmark of a Steinberg painting was the “almond” shaped
eyes of the subjects, placed on a 45%
angle on each face.

work since the late 1970s. The Exhibition, sponsored by the Columbia College
Class of 1975, is currently in its planning
phase but is expected to premiere in late
May 2015 on the Columbia University
campus before moving to other venues
across the country.

Through his last decades, Steinberg
shared an apartment and his art with his
younger sister, colorist Pauline Steinberg.
In its Summer 1996 edition, Folk Art
Magazine carried a feature-length article entitled “Sam Steinberg, House of
Cardboard or Marble Palace,” presenting
the first in-depth treatment of the artist,
this appearing fourteen years after Steinberg’s death.
The Fall 2014 issue of Columbia College Today, the alumni magazine of
Columbia College, announced the first
major retrospective covering Steinberg’s
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Oblivion Records 34

The
distributor
flyer for
Friends
Spring 1973

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Oblivion Records 35

A radio
flyer for
Friends and
Joe Lee Wilson’s
Livin’ High
Off Nickels
and Dimes
(Oblivion OD-5).
Sent until the
aupices of the
New Music
Distribution
Service and Jazz
Composer’s
Orchestra
1974

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Oblivion Records 36

Early sketches of the Friends back liner
(originally a Marc Cohen solo LP).

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Oblivion Records 37

Oblivion Records logo
explorations (and detail)
from the sketchbook of
Lisa Lenovitz Eaton
1972

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Oblivion Records 38

Oblivion Records Discography
January 2015
Vintage
Cover

2015
Cover

Mississippi Fred McDowell
Live in New York
Original LP release 1972
Oblivion Records OD-1
Johnny Woods
Mississippi Harmonica
Original single release 1972
Oblivion Records O#2
Marc Copland • John Abercrombie
• Clint Houston • Jeff Williams
Friends
Original LP release 1973
Oblivion Records OD-3
Charles Walker &
The New York City Blues Band
Blues from the Apple
Original LP release 1974
Oblivion Records OD-4
Joe Lee Wilson
Livin’ High Off Nickels & Dimes
Original LP release 1974
Oblivion Records OD-5
Honest Tom Pomposello
Original LP release 1975
Oblivion Records OD-6
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Oblivion Records 39

Oblivion Records
Box Set
Complete 1972-1975

2015 album covers
designed by
Frank Olinsky
www.frankolinsky.com

Oblivion Records
1972-1975
www.oblivionrecords.tumblr.com
Founded by
Fred Seibert, Tom Pomposello
& Dick Pennington
Oblivion Records logo designed by
Lisa Lenovitz Eaton