Andy Knight Music

British Multi-Intrumentalist


the album 'Fourth Workd Vol 1 - Possible Musics' by Jon Hassell and Brian Eno
‘Fourth World Vol 1 – Possible Musics – Jon Hassell/Brian Eno’

I bought this record shortly after it came out in 1980, and loved it from the first note. It seemed to come from another world altogether.

I couldn’t really fully understand where it was coming from, but it obviously had some kind of connection to both Miles Davis and Indian music.

Later on I learned about the connection with La Monte Young and it all made more sense.

 There was another strange thing-  one of the tracks (Griot ‘”Over Contagious Magic”) actually had a loop from “Miles Davis in Concert” playing in the background. How could that be? This was the first time I became aware of sampling…

This is still my favourite Jon Hassell album. His raga derived trumpet lines are unique and incredibly flexible. He uses a harmoniser throughout, and the parallel tonalities it produces give his lines an ethereal quality as they leave the tonality behind.  I was lucky to see him play some of this material at the first Womad festival in 1982.

Jon Hassell’s journey into the spaces in-between the conventional notes of the trumpet in pursuit of raga created one of the all-time most recognisable  signature sounds in music. It’s impossible to explore similar territory or use a harmoniser with a trumpet without sounding derivative of him.

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LP album by John Fahey named 'the yellow princess'
‘The Yellow Princess’ by John Fahey

 Since I’m a sucker for anything with some good train sounds in it, I love this. It appears at the end of side one of his album ‘The Yellow Princess‘, which was released some time around late 1968 or early 1969. It was his second record for Vanguard. The first, ‘Requia‘ also contained a lengthy tape collage, “Requiem for Molly”.

The piece uses a recording of the ‘singing bridge‘, which sounds like a train is passing over it (or nearby) slowly.

Mixed with this are echoed guitar sounds, an “electric bassoon” and an “old phonograph record”.

The old phonograph record is ‘Quill Blues‘ by Big Boy Cleveland,recorded in 1926. Apparently quills were a form of pan-pipe. Using an existing record to make a new piece of music in this way makes this track an early example of sampling.

All these elements are collaged together into an evocative tape piece, a world away from regular folk & blues revival music. It demonstrates yet again the breadth of John Fahey’s vision.

The track:  

Quill Blues:   


Act IV Scene 1-Building” is a track of “Einstein of the beach” by Philip Glass – Robert Wilson

Like many, I still prefer the first recording of “Einstein on the Beach”, even if it is a little short…

And one bit I’ve allways liked is “Act IV Scene 1-Building”. It’s the only Philip Glass piece that I know of that features improvisation.

It has the wonderful contrast of the Philip Glass Ensemble playing at breakneck speed with superhuman precision while the horn players play long tones leading to some  free-jazz style blowing over the top.

On this recording it sounds great, especially at high volume.


This 1968 live recording of “Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band All Night Flight” comes from the “Purple Modal Strobe Ecstasy with the Daughters of Destruction All Night Flight” concert at S.U.N.Y, Buffalo, N.Y., March 22, 1968.

It came out in 1996, and follows in the minamalist tradition of maximalist titles…

To anyone like myself who grew up listening to “A Rainbow in Curved Air” this CD is a joy.

the album 'a rainbow in curve air' by Terry Riley
Terry Riley – A rainbow in curved air

Here you can hear Riley’s live tape delay system (the phantom band) in all its splendour over fourty minutes.


the album Vista by Marion Brown and the album 'the pavilion of Dreams' by Harold Budd
LP Vista (Marion Brown) and CD The Pavilion of Dreams (Harold Budd)

Harold Budd and Marion Brown recorded this piece twice:

  • in 1975 on Brown’s album “Vista
  • and in 1976 on Budd’s “The Pavilion of Dreams”.

Both are unashamedly  sumptuously beautiful, and I often listen to one version followed by the other.

This composition by Harold Budd feels directly related to Coltrane’s “After The Rain” and “Welcome”. It pushes the floating quality of those works to the maximum, using multiple keyboards and percussion.

On Budd’s there’s electric piano, celeste, harp, glockenspiel and four marimbas.

On Brown’s version there are two celestes, Fender Rhodes, piano, bells and gongs.

It conjures up a blissed-out space, saved from New Age blandness by the arrangements and Marion Brown’s deep phrasing.

In the notes to his album “Porto Nova” Brown says “My reference is the blues and that’s where my music comes from. I do listen to music of other cultures… I don’t have to borrow from them … B. B. King is my Ravi Shankar.”

The Pavillion of Dreams” came out in 1978, the final in Brian Eno’s “Obscure Records” series.


Vista” is the fourth of Marion Brown’s albums for impulse, following the great “Geechee Recollections” and “Sweet Earth Flying”.



The album 'Volunteered Slavery' by Roland Kirk
Volunteered Slavery recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival (1968) and released in 1969 is an album by Roland Kirk

This record announced to me that, in the words of Sun Ra: “There are other worlds they have not told you of…”

An art teacher at school (thank you Mr Clegg) lent this to a friend of mine and he taped it for me.

It’s still my favourite Roland Kirk record. It has so much energy you could use it to heat your house up on a cold day .

Kirk sounds colossal – his horns sending out sheets of sound, both pre and post Coltrane.

The moment in the title track when he settles into “Hey Jude” is jubilant. On “Spirits Up Above” Roland and the band are joined by the “Roland Kirk Spirit Choir” and together they reach critical mass. This has to be one of the most celebratory pieces of music ever recorded, as is also “I Say a Little Prayer”.

Bacharach & David’s tune is used as a launchpad to pure music-as-energy (or energy-as-music), and just goes up a level every time you think its finished. Towards the end Kirk quotes everything from “The Four Tops”- “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” to Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”.

The second side captures a glorious live set from the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival. Central is the heartfelt “Tribute to John Coltrane”. The whole thing is a joy.

Volunteered Slavery


the album 'the complete Hot Five & hot Seven recordings' by Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong – The complete Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings

‘Basin Street Blues’ was recorded in 1928 and features in the album ‘The complete Hot Five and Hit Seven recordings’.

Three minutes and fifteen seconds never sounded better than this.

Perfection, from the first notes of the celeste to the astonishing trumpet climax and back to the celeste…

Elsewhere it has been cleaned up digitally and the surface noise removed, but I prefer the more ghostly quality when all that’s left in.


Art Ensemble of Chicago – People in Sorrow

Recorded in Paris in 1969 before Don Moye joined the group, and always criminally hard to get hold of. 

It did come out on CD as part of the “Americans swinging in Paris” series put out by EMI, mastered from vinyl rather than the source tapes (Chuck Nessa says he has them- come on somebody!).

This record is a masterpiece. A slow-burn improvisation built around a haunting theme which gradually reveals itself.

The Art Ensemble employ the full range of their instrumentation and sound like nobody else. Silence is also a big part of this record.

Unsurprisingly for a group whose stated aim is to play “Great Black Music, Ancient to the Future”, the music conjures up precisely that, including 20th century atonal classical music.

The last part is announced by a drone that sounds like a double reed instrument being played with circular breathing.

The theme is stated openly on unison horns and sounds magnificent. The music briefly reaches fever pitch before returning back to silence.

I’ve played this theme daily for years while practicing, often moving straight into Ornette’s “Lonely Woman” which feels related to me.

Now I tend to mix up the two themes up in my head…


The album 'Town hall, 1962' by Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman – Town Hall, 1962

Town Hall 1962”-a wonderful record.

 Ornette was one of the greatest melodicists in jazz (if not the greatest). This record is full of blues-drenched stream-of -consciousness melodic improvisation, especially on ‘The Ark’, which takes up all of side two.

I love the sound of this recording, and Ornette’s vocal tone never sounded better.

On “Sadness”, everything is reduced to the melody, delivered over David Izenzohn’s arco bass and Charles Moffet’s sparse drumming. 

It’s all there- the aching, vocal tone and the melodic line continuously modulating as it pours out a pure lament. If I had to pick one piece of Ornette’s it might well be this one.


I borrowed this record from my local library as a Miles Davis obsessed sixteen-year-old, as it had John Mclaughlin on it. What I discovered was Don Cherry. This track captivated me and I still love it.

   The music is a great early example of using the recording studio to conjure up a vision of some kind of imaginary ‘ancient to the future’ ( to quote from the Art Ensemble of Chicago) pan-cultural space.

Recorded in 1970, this predates Jon Hassell’s ‘Vernal Equinox’ by nearly a decade.

The track starts with a tape loop of some Indian music (flute and tamboura), sounding like it was fished out of a pond. The ‘Desert Band’ fade in, and Don Cherry’s trumpet sound evokes musical traditions much more ancient than jazz. This is what I always loved about his playing- it feels connected to something universal and timeless. There is no attempt at sounding polished or slick.

In the liner notes for the live album “Actions” (1971) Cherry is quoted as saying “I hate professionalism… (it) became like a religion in some quarters. To me there’s more to religion than that.”

Cherry plays what sounds like an improvised melodic line. This section of the tape is then repeated later in the piece (with slightly different editing at the end), which has the effect of transforming an improvised line into a theme. This is exactly the same technique that was used by Teo Macero on Miles Davis records of the period, especially “In a Silent Way” and “Bitches Brew”.

In a long and fascinating article about the making of the record, Carla Bley says that A.I.R. and some of the other pieces “…didn’t yet exist – all being Frankenstein creations put together later from bits and pieces of discarded materials.

To read the article by Carla Bley, click on “Accomplishing Escalator Over the Hill” .

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“‘Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes’ – John Fahey

A duet between John Fahey on guitar and Nancy McLean on flute, recorded in St Michael’s Church, Adelphi, Maryland in 1962.

This music defies easy classification- ‘American primitivist’ meets post Debussy modernist improv?

Whatever you choose to call it, this recording has an etherial, ghostly quality to it, especially the introduction.

The whole album, ‘Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes’ is great, in both the original 1963 or the 1967 (mostly) re-recorded version.

Fahey’s music is unique. As he said:

I was thinking mainly of Bartok as a model, but played in this finger-picking pattern… Everybody else was just trying to copy folk musicians. I wasn’t trying to do that.”


Miles Davis at Fillmore
Miles Davis at Fillmore

But this record gets a lot of bad press, particularly when compared to the ‘Complete Live at Fillmore’ CD box set. Obviously there is a lot to be said for getting to hear the whole thing. This goes for ANY Miles Davis concert, and for anyone who hasn’t yet found it, has an amazing collection of live recordings from 1969-1975 in chronological order. And on YouTube Milestones: A Miles Davis Archive has also gathered an incredible collection of Miles Davis’s live and studio recordings.

But I still come back to this one.

First there is the sound:

For me, Teo Macero got it right first time, although there is an argument to be made over some later recordings such as ‘Miles Davis in Concert’ or ‘Aghartha’. But on the classic 60s Quintet recordings through to ‘Bitches Brew’ and ‘Get Up With It’ he got the balance between clarity and warmth about right in my opinion

The whole CBS box set reissue series has tended towards a drier, more detailed sound. Of course it’s all a matter of taste, but I for one prefer Teo’s approach.

And then, there is the editing:

I always felt that the editing on this record (and others by Miled Davis) was an important part of the creative whole. Some hear it as a mess, but I see it as opening up multiple perspectives on the music.

There is a very interesting interview with Teo Macero in which he talks about his friendship with the French composer Edgard Varese-

 “I was there when he was doing his ‘Poeme Electronique’ in Paris. He would show me all the pieces, all of the elements. But he was creating sounds from other sources other than electronica sounds. He was making his own, which to me is very creative. Much more so than just putting it through a filter. He created all kinds of things for that “Poeme Electronique” and I was fascinated by it.

Teo Macero

So Teo was there when one of the landmark pieces of electronic musique concrete was created. No wonder he was interested in using editing as a creative tool.

For ‘Miles Davis at Fillmore’  he could have just put together a standard live album, choosing the ‘best’ versions of the various pieces and presenting  a ‘complete’ sounding concert. The LP format didn’t really allow for the whole four nights to be put out as  Miles was reported to want. Instead Teo chose to use creative editing to make something unique- a kaleidescopic cubist multiperspective view of four nights of extroadinary music making.

 I still listen to it as a thing of wonder- editing and all.

Click on the full interview with Teo Macero



I picked this up some time in the 90s and loved it from the first listen. I’ve never heard a better version, although the Alban Berg Quartet’s recording is also pretty good.

Dating I think from 1967, this for me is a perfect combination of composition, performance and recording.

Running at about seven minutes in total, the Three Pieces capture in miniature the techniques of the maximalist ‘Rite of Spring’ and distill them down to their essence.

The performance is wonderful, with plenty of edge and no prettiness or romanticism.

 There’s an immediacy to the recording which brings out the more astringent part of the bowing sound and is perfectly suited to Stravinsky’s music.

For me it all adds up to a magical recording- one which I return to again and again.

This doesn’t seem to be a very celebrated record, and I can find very little about it on the web. Even Discogs doesn’t give any date, although 1/6/’67 is scratched onto the runout of my copy…

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