and improvised music have long held a certain appeal for fans of
underground and outside art. Those who cut their teeth on the Fugs and
protest music of the '60s found similar yelps offered among the jewels
of the ESP-Disk catalog, and post-riot French students found solidarity
(if briefly) with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The do-it-yourself
aesthetic of creative music is an easy thing to latch onto for
followers of punk music and aesthetics, from privately pressed LPs and
CDRs to concerts held in lofts and basements. Though punk is not always
“protest” music in lyric form, the idea of the music as a self-reliance
project is itself a statement filled with raw emotion and power,
despite the fact that corporate-art society would have little to do
with such grit.
Minneapolis' De Stijl Records has over the past decade been home to a coterie of original and reissued vinyl and CDs from the (mostly) American music underground. The label sees its first steps toward “jazz” in the CD reissue of In the Midst of Chaos, the sole LP by Connecticut free-form guerillas, Orange. First issued in a small run of 200 copies in 1978, it is a document of sub-underground improvised music that few people have heard until now, let alone seen. In the Midst of Chaos is also notable as the first recorded example of saxophonist Paul Flaherty's work; he's joined by guitarist Barry Greika, bassist Bob Laramie and drummer Glen “Hobbit” Peterson on eleven collective improvisations. For three tracks the core are joined by Paul's cousins Dan and Dave Flaherty on additional percussion instruments—apparently the one Orange session they attended. For the most part, Orange has little to do with free jazz, although the opening fragment, “Golden Falcons,” might tease one's thoughts in the direction of Ornette Coleman (Greika doubles here on trumpet) by way of blood-curdling shred a la Charles Tyler. Peterson's ride cymbal is infectious and Greika's muted brass follows the lineage of a bent bebopper. Two minutes in, such preconceptions are shattered as Greika switches to fife and the improvisation opens up into plucked electric bass harmonics and liquid alto before fading out. Greika's guitar playing is scumbled lightning, pelting obsessive runs in tonalities of hollow electricity, a twisted flurry of in-between notes to match Flaherty's wide vibrato as Hobbit and Laramie stoke a roiling stew underneath.
There's a staggering unity in complete disunity, and that's part of Orange's charm and power. A lickety-split freebop pulse imbues Hobbit's Ed Blackwell/Denis Charles-influenced drumming as Greika's santur-like runs fill every leftover space with tart shards. Laramie seems in a different, slower and more allover sound world and Flaherty's energy is, at this point, given up towards a post-Coltrane muse. Most of the improvisations are brief windows on group interaction with no definable beginning or end (beyond the fade-in and fade- out), sometimes wrapped in the reverb and echo of a dub chamber. In the Midst of Chaos is delightfully cluttered and defines its own aesthetic center. More than quaint local charm, Orange are like nothing you've ever heard.
~ Clifford Allen
All About Jazz
Recorded in 1978, In The Midst
Of Chaos is this western CT free-jazz group's only
release. It would
become improv jazz sax player Paul Flaherty's 1st record, who, as a
youth, was smitten by the world, it's creator and Pharoah Sanders.
Chaos is also the only release of legendary guitarist Barry Greika,
who, along with bassist Bob Laramie and drummer Glen "Hobbit" Peterson,
remain the most under - recorded trio in history. A screamin', howlin',
blisterin', slap of a record that defies categorizations as it pushes
the 70's into uncharted confusion.
Pressed in a quantity of only 200 copies, it received the notice of almost no one. Two heard it tho; one sailed it out the kitchen window, the wife of the other said to get the fuckin' thing out of the house.
So here it comes again. Hardcore freeform shit, rejuvenated without shame.
~ Charles F. Destruction
30 years ago, Paul Flaherty got together with some other western Connecticut misfits to play and record as the group Orange. One LP (pressed in a quantity of 200) came from the experience and In the Midst of Chaos presents four young idealists pulling, for the most part, in four different directions. Trained electric guitarist Barry Greika wanted a conventional jazz band. Flaherty wanted nothing else but to play freely, with electric bassist Bob Laramie and red-haired drummer Hobbit coming down somewhere in the middle. Flaherty ratchets the bluster down a notch, more influenced by The Son (Pharoah Sanders) at this stage than The Holy Ghost (Albert Ayler), shaking bells and vocalizing here and there and much of the program is given over to the electric stylings of Greika and Laramie. But while neighboring New Hampshire may have had dibs on it, this CD marked the point in time when four musicians made their case for a new Connecticut state motto: Play Free or Die.
~ Jeff Stockton
All About Jazz