Artist: Ackley, Frith, Kaiser, Shelton
Album: Unexpected Twins
Label: Relative Pitch Records
Year Of Release: 2019
Quality: FLAC (tracks)
1. The Shreeve 3:03
2. Bound 6:04
3. Emit Time 7:23
4. Court Music 16:15
5. This Reminds Me 6:54
6. Long Story Short 4:17
7. Curling 20:04
8. Quads 6:18
9. A Special Hell For Shreeves 5:03
Aram Shelton-alto saxophone
Henry Kaiser-electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Fred Frith-electric guitar, piano
Bruce Ackley-soprano saxophone
“This album celebrates the 1977 band TWINS, that consisted of Bruce Ackley, Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser, and John Zorn. Featuring the usual instrumentation of two reeds and two guitars, it pre-dated they New York Downtown scene that was to follow. Ackley and Kaiser wanted to re-visit the original repertoire and approach of this quartet, but found it unlikely that the original members could be reunited for such a project. Grabbing their pals Fred Frith and Aram Shelton, they entered the studio to record pieces by the original Twins, as well as Fred and Aram. To reflect the first Twins interest in its ancestors, a gorgeous Steve Lacy piece was also recorded. This album definitely captures the spirits of fun, surprise, and youthful exploration, that was manifest in the original Twins. It’s been quite a while since Kaiser and Frith and preformed and recorded together and this project is also a celebration and renewal of their musical partnership that began over 40 years ago, back in the days of the original Twins.”
“The music herein revisits a particular moment in the development of free improvised music in North America, when young musicians who were just finding their voices around the US and Canada were beginning to connect with one another. The central figure in this was Eugene Chadbourne, an American guitarist living in Calgary, Alberta (the family had moved to Canada to ensure that their sons would not be sent to Vietnam). Eugene made two superb solo guitar records while still in his early 20s, and not only began finding places to play across Canada but got in touch with like-minded Americans from different parts of the country, either by meeting them on the road or being introduced via recordings. By 1976 Chadbourne had hooked up with Henry Kaiser and Owen Maercks in Worcester, Massachusetts, and with them recorded one side of a record he released as Guitar Trios. (Kaiser and Maercks, both San Francisco Bay Area natives, were touring the east coast at the time. The other side of Guitar Trios was recorded in Calgary, with the present writer and Randy Hutton.) On another trip, Eugene met Bruce Ackley the same way everyone met Bruce in those days, by wondering into Aquarius Records on Castro St. in San Francisco.
In 1977 Chadbourne moved to New York, and quickly made the acquaintance of many musicians who were established there, as well as some who lived in the Apple but weren’t established yet, like John Zorn. It was Eugene who began telling everyone about John, and by late 1977 the two travelled from NY to play some gigs with Henry and Bruce in the quartet called “Twins.” They also recorded together, and in fact the Twins version of “Lacrosse” was the first date Zorn ever led in a recording studio. It appeared on Eugene’s Parachute label, along with a version of the piece recorded in NY the next year, which also featured two Alabama-based musicians Chadbourne had pulled into his and John’s orbit, Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith. In SF, Twins also recorded a version of another of John’s game pieces, “Curling,” but this was lost in the mail (OUCH!).
Back to San Francisco in 1977 – just about the same time that the Twins band was gigging around the Bay Area, Bruce Ackley joined forces with Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, and Andrew Voigt to create a much longer-lived group, the ROVA saxophone quartet. And Henry Kaiser, along with Larry Ochs and pianist Greg Goodman, formed Metalanguage records. Fred Frith, who had of course already made his reputation as a formidable British avant-rocker and free improviser, moved to New York in 1979 and was immediately immersed in the Downtown scene, but also began a long association with Henry, which was first documented on the Melalanguage LP With Friends Like This.
The Twins group was just one of the many associations that figured in the development of the new music and of the people involved with it, but even though all the members have found occasion to work with one another in various ways over the 4 decades since that first encounter, it has never been practical to reunite the group. Finally Henry and Bruce decided to return to the studio with an un-identical version of Twins that featured the identical instrumentation; to revisit the general approach and some of the repertoire of the original group. The results are fantastic, as you, dear listener, are discovering for yourself.”-Duck Baker