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June 01, 2009



Whoa, at any quality, thanks!

Louisville Dan

WOW! A real find. Thanks for posting.


I am so there like.


truly extraordinary. thank you!


Great tunes! Thanks.

For the record, by 1957 Cecil taylor was already well into it (on record) never mind Lennie Tristano. Mingus was also poking at the free jazz thing by this time.


...and stories going back to '40s bebop players' private sessions as well... i'm starting to think this music pretty much goes back to the beginning.
nevertheless, what a great entry point to a larger field of music-- wonderful sounding stuff.

any references out there to this being the real deal? i'm pretty convinced myself.

weasel walter

i was going to cite taylor and tristano, but andy beat me to it. regardless, this is pretty interesting info.


Noal Cohen

The vibist is Teddy Charles.


Frank Zappa 1971:

I waited some more. The letter came. I couldn't believe it. A real handwritten letter from Edgard Varese! I still have it in a little frame. In very tiny scientific-looking script it says:

VII 12th/57

Dear Mr. Zappa

I am sorry not to be able to grant your request. I am leaving
for Europe next week and will be gone until next spring. I am
hoping however to see you on my return. With best wishes.


Edgard Varese

I never got to meet Mr. Varese. But I kept looking for records of his music. When he got to be about eighty I guess a few companies gave in and recorded some of his stuff. Sort of a gesture, I imagine. I always wondered who bought them besides me. It was about seven years from the time I first heard his music till I met someone else who even knew he existed. That person was a film student at USC. He had the Columbia LP with Poeme Electronique on it. He thought it would make groovy sound effects.

I can't give you any structural insights or academic suppositions about how his music works or why I think it sounds so good. His music is completely unique. If you haven't heard it yet, go hear it. If you've already heard it and think it might make groovy sound effects, listen again. I would recommend the Chicago Symphony recording of Arcana on RCA (at full volume) or the Utah Symphony recording of Ameriques on Vanguard. Also, there is a biography by Fernand Oulette, and miniature scores are available for most of his works, published by G. Ricordi.


Where did you get these?

I think you're goofing.

Dark and Dusty corners, my ass.

Allen Lowe

probably eddie costa on vibes - Allen Lowe


This is absolutely the shit!
This should all be compiled on one CD, like a jazz rave album.
It's like flying with and through mobiles.

Steve P.

There's a definite progression through the tracks...Doesn't sound like Art Farmer to me; actually sounds like a classical player.

I think it's Edgard Varese (with a d)

Peter EVans

Awesome---I've heard of this but never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd actually hear it!!!
BTW what is the source on the "used to listen to John Coltrane at the Village"?

William M

Actually sounds a bit like mid-60s Sun Ra.

Nike Shox TL

Life is just a series of trying to make up your mind. If you've decided to do something, you will get something what you want. Just do it, you are the unique one.


Wow, this is mind blowing. I had no idea that he did this! This just made my night. Thanks for the post!

Herb Deutsch

I wrote an article on Edgard Varese for New Arts Journal (or some name like that( They never published. Interviewed him twice at his house in the village. He told me the Charlie Parker story, that Bird wanted to study with him, but it never happened. The date timimg is correct and these sound like legit attempts. Really cool stuff and he probably did sketch them. Got to know him pretty well over the years since my Moog days.

Bill Crow

I was the bassist on one of these sessions, at Greenwich House in NYC. Some of the other musicians on that day were Art Farmer, Don Butterfield, Ed Shaughnessy, Teddy Charles, Teo Macero, and Eddie Bert.

Richard Leigh

There's a marvellous book published by the Paul Sacher Foundation and still, as far as I know, available. It's the catalogue of a major exhibition, is a huge and beautiful but not expensive hardback, and anyone with an interest in Varese would kill for it. I'm only sorry that Zappa didn't live to see it. It mentions this session, suggesting that the score resembles that of Poeme Electronique. Dunno what this means, but it's certainly intriguing. The whole subject of the overlaps of jazz and composed music needs more study than it has so far received. What of Dolphy's performances of Varese's "Density 21.5" ? What of Dolphy quoting Debussy at the start of his great solo performance of "Love Me" ? Etc, etc

Richard Leigh

An addition to the above. I've just checked the part of the Varese catalogue which deals with these sessions. There isn't complete agreement as to who is playing, or how many sessions there were - not surpising, given the lapse of half a century. It looks as if Varese had a graphic score for eight players, which was also used in some way for "Poeme Electronique"( there are two such scores reproduced in the book). For what it's worth, I'd say that the vibes-player is likely to be Teddy Charles, because he worked and recorded with several of the named participants and was very involved in experimentation. Not conclusive, but I suppose at least plausible. The sound quality is certainly poor- very muffled. The speech, particularly, will need a lot of tinkering to be made audible. I agree with the person who doubted if the trumpeter was Art Farmer: the sound is more strident and forceful - though if he was simply obeying instructions from Varese this could perhaps explain his unusual sound.
As for the argument about who invented free jazz: it seems to me that it doesn't matter in the least who was the first to try it out. What matters, surely, is who made important music. I'm a great fan of Tristano and Konitz, but I don't regard their experiments in freedom as an important part of their legacy - pretty well ALL the other recordings they made at that time were better musically. Also, they didn't stick with it for long, which suggests to me that they were not very involved. Teddy Charles, for example, was more consistent in this respect - so was Jimmy Giuffre, for that matter.
Can anyone explain HOW Varese used some of the music in his "Poeme Electronique", by the way?


how could I download this gem ??

Peter Cherches

Bill Crow wrote about the sessions. He confirms Teddy Charles.

David Panton

I first heard an extract from this tape many (20?) years ago on a BBC radio programme. I was impressed by the way all the musicians played very freely with a knowing confidence, which suggested this wasn't the first time they'd done this kind of thing. As I remember, it was explained Varese didn't know what 'dots' to write for jazz musicians so he produced a graphic representation of his ideas. Hearing them again here confirms for me that free jazz/improvisation was a well established method by this time (1957)arrived at over time perhaps during after hour sessions and in workshops like the one from which these extracts come.

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