Grammy winner Henry Kaiser
is widely recognized as one of the most creative and innovative guitarists, improvisers, and producers in the fields of rock, jazz, world, and contemporary experimental musics. The California-based musician is one of the most extensively recorded as well, having appeared on more than 250 different albums and contributed to countless television and film soundtracks. Kaiser produces and contributes to a staggering number of recorded projects. And he performs frequently throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan both in group configurations, as a soloist, and in ad hoc concerts of freely improvised music with a host of diverse instrumentalists.
How versatile is Kaiser? A fraction of the artists with whom he has recorded and/or performed include Evan Parker, John Oswald, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Toshinori Kondo, Steve Lacy, John Stevens, Michael Stipe, Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell, John Stevens, Steve Smith, Drumbo (John French), Chris Cutler, Andy West, Fred Frith, Terry Riley, Scott Amendola, Michael Snow, Diamanda Galas, Thomas Mapfumo, Phil Lesh, Lukas Ligeti, Cecil Taylor, Merl Saunders, Tom Constanten, Negativland, and Michael McClure.
Kaiser's numerous Cuneiform releases include Lemon Fish Tweezer (solo, 1975); The Siamese Stepbrothers (1995); a duo recording with Fred Frith, Friends and Enemies (1999); two volumesSky Garden (2004) and Upriver (2005)of "Yo Miles!," the electric Miles Davis project he co-led with Wadada Leo Smith; and Healing Force: Songs of Albert Ayler (2007). He also curated and appeared on 156 Strings: Nineteen Totally Originally Acoustic Guitarists (2002); and appeared on Unsettled Scores (1995), two various artist recordings released by Cuneiform.
But that's not all! Henry also has a lifetime habit of collaborating with his many guitar heroes, including Jerry Garcia, Derek Bailey, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, D’Gary, Hans Reichel, Sonny Sharrock, Barry Melton, Mike Keneally, David Torn, Fred Frith, Davey Williams, Eugene Chadbourne, David Lindley, John Abercrombie, Bruce Anderson, Amos Garrett, Glenn Phillips, Freddie Roulette, Bob Weir, Steve Kimock, Jody Stecher, Jim O’Rourke, Martin Simpson, Elliot Ingber, and Harvey Mandel.
Since 1972, Kaiser has had a parallel career in the film and television industry, in which he has worked as a producer, director, and soundtrack composer. He has directed and produced many hours of science programming. He received an Academy Award nomination WHAT YEAR? for his work as producer of Werner Herzog's Encounters At The End Of The World, for which he also served as underwater cameraman and soundtrack composer. Kaiser worked on three other Herzog films: The Wild Blue Yonder, Grizzly Man, and Little Dieter Needs To Fly.
THE CELESTIAL SQUAD
(with Ray Russell)
"Not only is the guitar playing inventive and intuitive but the interaction between horns and the rhythm section is muscular and supportive. Given the nature of this proceeding, a large band playing live with scant arrangements, deep listening was required by all participants. The disaster quotient was high, but The Celestial Squid delivers the opposite in spades. It is a welcome return to the athletic fringes for Russell and one of the most inspired and striking of Kaiser's two-guitar encounters to date." All Music Guide
Guitar summits don't ascend higher than when legendary British free-jazz pioneer and longtime session ace Ray Russell meets the brilliant California avant-improv overachiever and Antarctic diver Henry Kaiser in the realm of The Celestial Squid. With more than countless session and soundtrack performances to his credit, including the early James Bond film scores, Russell is returning to his bone-rattling, noise-rocking roots for the first time since the very early 70s. You'll be shaken and stirred as Kaiser, Russell and eight super friends deliver a no-holds-barred, free-range sonic cage match.
Russell created some of the early '70s' most outrageously outside music, releasing hallmark works of guitar shock-and-awe. Russell's "stabbing, singing notes and psychotic runs up the fretboard have nothing to do with scalular architecture," wrote All Music's Thom Jurek, "but rather with viscera and tonal exploration." Russell anticipated the wildest and most intrepid vibrations of Terje Rypdal, Dave Fuzinski, Sonic Youth, Keiji Haino, Tisziji Muñoz and their boundary-dissolving ilk. Russell is hardly a niche performer, though. Untold millions of music and film fans have actually, if unknowingly, already enjoyed Russell's riffs at least if they saw any of the James Bond films that John Barry scored, beginning with Dr. No in 1962.
For over 40 years, Russell would not make such exploratory music until West Coast guitar experimentalist Henry Kaiser called him out of the blue and asked if he would be interested in co-leading an ensemble in the style of his '71 masterpiece, Live at the ICA: June 11th 1971. Russell was surprised and delighted by the offer, and readily accepted. Why had he waited so long to once again explore the free-jazz spaceways you might well wonder? Simple no one had asked him to do so!
So on April 12, 2014, Henry Kaiser and Ray Russell along with drummers Weasel Walter and William Winant, bassists Michael Manring (electric) and Damon Smith (acoustic), and saxophonists Steve Adams, Joshua Allen, Phillip Greenlief, and Aram Shelton entered Berkeley, California's Fantasy Studios for a day-long session that resulted in The Celestial Squid, a nearly eighty-minute embryonic journey through the deepest waters and most cosmic heights of improvised music. Except for melodic heads and compositional structures, everything on The Celestial Squid is improvised, down to some astonishing extemporaneous horn arrangements. While The Celestial Squid echoes the raw energy and youthful bravado of Russell's earliest achievements, this music synergizes the combined power and imagination of all ten of these musical masters into a force to be reckoned with.