About this entry

the beak doctor | greg goodman

the beak doctor

The Beak Doctor, keen on living up to the responsibility of the ancient Codes of Construction, has committed its vast resources to the investigation of all auditory pathogens, and the exposure of these same sonic germs to the saliva of hungry ears.

It is NOT enough to go forward nor even back, but deep and deeper, then to the left side, listening to the silences before the attack.Three things are critically important! We pause here to listen to our own thoughts.

The Beak Doctor, originally revealed in 1978 as a purveyor principally of vinyl persuasion, is now issuing compact discs in honor of the last century’s somewhat tepid technological inclinations.

It is expected that true, round, twelve-inch breakable record-discs will also be released with some and slightly different music from these same performances; our point being that when sat upon, this latter format still provides far keener and more delightful sound, not to mention bigger pieces.

While thumbing through, or thumbing your nose at, The Beakalogue, consider that there is no forest that hears more than one where a tree falls. This is also true of very curious fish.

The Beak Doctor was formed by Greg Goodman in 1978 as a purveyor of vinyl records, releasing material from primarily West Coast improvisors based around Rova, Goodman and Kaiser but including musicians from wider afield such as Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and Jon Rose. Following a long period of inactivity, The Beak Doctor arose again in late 2002 with two CD releases though, “in due course, it is expected that true, round, twelve-inch breakable records will be released with music from selected performances; our point being that when sat upon, this latter format still provides far keener and more delightful sound, not to mention bigger pieces”.

Greg Goodman is one of America’s most distinguished improvising pianists. He is just as distinguished when he is in Europe. He was also very distinguished when he was in the Soviet Union in 1989, but it is still not clear whether or not Russia is part of Europe, or if it should be. This ordinarily would not affect Greg Goodman, or his distinguished career; at least, not in his opinion. For the purposes of this biography, Greg Goodman has worked with many of the world’s leading improvisers, including John Cage, Nicolas Slonimsky, and his Mother; he has also worked with many who did not lead.

When not working, he is the proprietor of Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, the San Francisco Bay Area’s longest running (since 1978) presenter of avant-garde music and theater. He also runs (from) the famous Beak Doctor Records.

gregGoodman.jpg

The Finger Palace

The night after the big Beanbender’s blowout a handful of musicians gathered in the living room of improvising pianist Greg Goodman. Also known as Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace — founded in 1978 as a performance space for irregularly scheduled events of irregular music and theater — the small West Berkeley house is equipped with a theatrical lighting rig and, for ticketed shows (the tickets are bananas), risers with 25 or so chairs are set up at one end of the room opposite the grand piano. On this night, I was a privately invited audience of one for the regular Monday Night Band (known in public as the Duck Tape Boulders) improv session.

Pianist Woody Woodman, drummers Joseph Sabella and Deborah Craig, and guitarist Terry Rolleri were joined by saxophonist-flutist Andrew Voigt (an original member of Rova). Sabella blew deep, quiet, oceanic tones from a tuba; Craig skittered around her drums and cymbals with a set of brushes; Woodman reached inside the piano and plucked the strings; Rolleri jammed a stick into his electric guitar’s strings and strummed weird, barely audible hums and moans; Voigt injected melodic fragments on flute and sax.

The sounds gelled into rippling, strangely cohesive patterns and gathered into intermittent roars of four-handed drumming, cascading piano notes, and collectively generated tonal clusters. I noticed that a spotlight had created a splash of orange on the wall behind the piano — sunrise over Baldwin. The room was a cubist maze of shapes: the curved brass of the tuba reflecting glints of colored light, cymbals hovering like flying saucers in the air, a guitar neck slanting against the black camel-hump of the piano lid. The music itself may not have been magical or terribly wild, but the process of musicmaking had embraced me and left me in the end feeling freshly scrubbed and a bit disoriented.

source

The Beak Doctor Catalogue

bd8.gif

BD8: Woody Woodman’s Circus of Construction, Acts 1-14 (CD)

Greg Goodman: Unprepared Piano & Objets d’intérieur
Garth Powell: Percussion & Very Bent Saw
George Cremaschi: Contrabass & Cantilevered Chopsticks
Recorded February 8, 2003

The Acts in this Circus Of Construction were discovered after years of intensive investigation and perhaps dangerous travels to places that have not even been named yet. Goodman, Powell, & Cremaschi met countless times to scrutinize the maps and somewhat arcane manuscripts provided by Woody Woodman, whose mission, at least to them, was never made clear. But the three adventurers decided the time was never More Right to fulfill such rigors than slightly after The Millennium, just when things were really beginning to spin out of control.

In Secret, they examined the plans before them, and gathering their best machinery, put their futures behind them and their pasts in the post; they were held together by nothing more than the slimiest tether of indiscretion. But was that enough?

Much has been written about these Three; too much has been written about Woody Woodman. The result of this collaboration is nothing short of something Much Longer; as we are saying. In one barbaric conflagration, ……. the notes were distilled, palpitated, then inscribed as code for your necessary instructions.
What is revealed is probably worse: these Things, if not true, are better than facts!

bd7.gif

BD7: They Were Gentle And Pretty Pigs (CD)

Greg Goodman: Unprepared Piano & Objets d’intérieur
Mats Gustafsson: Imposing Saxophones, Disgruntled Flute
George Cremaschi: Contrabass & Very Strict Rulers
Recorded February 5 & 6, 1999
Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, Berkeley, California, USA

This investigation reflects a wonderful meeting during February 1999, when our co-conspirators spent a week together, mostly around Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, but occasionally at better restaurants in the Bay Area of San Francisco. There were two nights of performances and several more casual sessions. Most days were sunny.

Greg, Mats, and George have quite different historical inclinations: Mats hails from Sweden (Lapland, very close to the Arctic Circle), George is connected to Italy and Spain (with heavy Moorish, Sephardic Jew and Celtic influence) via Argentina, Greg’s grandmother traveled Gypsy-like from the center of Rumania; there might be a Russian in there somewhere. If you hear any of these influences in the music, you are probably imagining them. The great impact of these backgrounds was on where the three ate during that week.

Similarly, it can be said that coming from different locations in the world, they are always on different time schedules. The effects of this can clearly be heard because, even when playing exactly the same note at precisely the same moment, they are obviously in quite different time zones.

You might get exactly the same effect if all three were in the same room pretending to be in the same room while wondering how they got in the room. If this is too confusing, think of three gentle and pretty pigs, and what they would do together.
Whatever that is, you get to listen to it.

bd56.gif

BD5&6: THE SOCIAL/SCIENCE SET (CD)

With:
Bruce Ackley, Derek Bailey, Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, Toshinori Kondo, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Jon Raskin, and Andrew Voigt
Recorded October, 1980
The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, and 1750 Arch Street Studio, Berkeley, California, USA

This CD is a reissue of two vinyl records: Volume 1: The Social Set and Volume 2: The Science Set, recorded in 1980, October 19 and 21, respectively. They were produced by The Beak Doctor/Metalanguage Records (originated by Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser and Larry Ochs in 1978) during The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music: a scrummage of musicians who had previously recorded on the label.

Volume 1 consists of two extended whole-group pieces and was recorded at Arch Street Studios in Berkeley, California.

Volume 2 was recorded in performance at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, a grand hall with lots of age and rubbed-off gold. We got the feeling, gazing from the stage at the high ceilings above the wrap-around box seating, that it was The Roman Coliseum. If we squeezed into our Lion costumes, we could make a night of it. The contests were in duos, trios, quartets, and an occasional solo: someone battling himself.

This reissue is configured to fit the dubious prerogatives of compact disc technology. (Two records cannot be squeezed into a turnip nor can Cinderella’s shoe fit into the CD player.) As Woody’s Great Great Grandfather, Woodrow W. Woodman used to say, “You can’t step into the same river twice and not get your feet wet, where am I?”
It is truly grand ensemble playing, and we are saying that by myself.

bd6.gif

BD6: The Science Set — The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music 1980, Volume 2 (LP)

With:
Derek Bailey, Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, Toshinori Kondo, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Jon Raskin, and Andrew Voigt
Recorded October 21, 1980
The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, California, USA
LP: presently out of print; reissued on CD, 2002, see above

The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music brought together a scrummage of musicians who had previously recorded on The Beak Doctor/Metalanguage label.

The Science Set was recorded in performance on October 21, 1980, at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, a grand hall with lots of age and rubbed-off gold. We got the feeling, gazing from the stage at the high ceilings above the wrap-around box seating, that it was The Roman Coliseum. If we squeezed into our Lion costumes, we could make a night of it. The contests were in duos, trios, quartets, and an occasional solo: someone battling himself.

bd5.gif

BD5: The Social Set — The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music 1980, Volume 1 (LP)

With:
Bruce Ackley, Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, Toshinori Kondo, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Jon Raskin, and Andrew Voigt
Recorded October 19, 1980
1750 Arch Street Studio, Berkeley, California, USA
LP: presently out of print; reissued on CD, 2002, see above

The Social Set consists of two extended whole-group pieces and was recorded in 1980 during The Metalanguage Festival of Improvised Music: a scrummage of musicians who had previously recorded on The Beak Doctor/Metalanguage label.

This music was revealed in the hills above Berkeley (1750 Arch Street Studio) and was a full-blown, all-day affair. We probably ate pizza.

bd4.gif

BD4: The Construction of Ruins: The Australian Site (LP)

Greg Goodman: Unprepared Piano
Henry Kaiser: Guitars
Jon Rose: Various Violins
Recorded 1982 in Sydney & Perth, Australia
LP: presently out of print

The Construction of Ruins is an avant-garde theatre assumption, etc. Slight of mind is employed throughout. Every effort is made. Ears are helpful.

These assumptions have been constructed:

* Peculiar Case of the Killer Umbrella: Berkeley, California * Superficial Inquest Into the Shroud of Turin: Moers, Germany * The Disclosure of Gasoline Rationing and Death and Resurrection of the WoodYear Blimp: Berkeley, California * Tut Tells All: San Francisco, California * Space is No Place to Shuttle: Bremen, Germany and London, England * The Construction Site: Berkeley, San Francisco, and Perth, Australia * The Nullarbor is Not Flat: Perth, Australia * No-Noh: Tokyo, Sendei, and Kyoto, Japan

In these investigations I often use ephemera appearing under nose: “stuff” informing the historical phenomenon. So, in Tut Tells All, for the purposes of illustration, I put a trout wrapped in Johnson & Johnson bandages and sequin jewels into a fish-shaped Sarcophagus (jello-mold), and thus gave some insight into the mysterious ancient rites of mummification; in this case, of The Pharoah Fish. In this same performance I found it necessary to sacrifice 12 gas cans and caps into the mouth of the piano in the name of the ongoing gas crisis–a situation which made it difficult to get to the Tut Exhibit across the Bay, let alone buy and eat fish.

One side of this record, The Nullarbor is Not Flat, was composed during a ten-week journey through Australia in 1982, and was recorded during my participation in February at The Festival of Perth. The experience of modern transport and communication, against a background of awesome, narcotic landscape, led to the unearthing of a collection of disposable service artifacts. Some of these, acquired on a four-day train trip across the continent, became explicit components of my presentation. As appurtenant instruments they forged the musical foundation of this Construction piece. Their participation in The Australian Site reveals cultural proclivities decoded and recorded in the form of sonic possibilities, and you should hear this record.

The Artifacts:

  • * 2 Emu beer cans
  • * 7 cardboard coasters
  • * 1 2nd seating meal ticket
  • * 6 blue plastic straws
  • * 2 National Australian Railway postcards showing the “Indian Pacific”
  • * 1 NAR ashtray
  • * 2 bars Railway soap
  • * 1 NAR ticket & pass
  • * 1 Time and Location Schedule
  • * 1 2′ x 3′ National Australian Railway Map
  • * 1 NAR shoeshine packet
  • * 1 packet Railway coffee
  • * 1 packet Railway tea
  • * 1 teaspoon
  • * 1 packet NAR Complimentary Biscuits
  • * 2 NAR sugar packets, one depicting surfers, the other depicting penguins

The first two pieces on Other Side, U-DAG and Dingos In Quest, evolved from performances with Henry Kaiser and Jon Rose at The Relative Band Festival, The Festival of Sydney, and The Sydney Jazz Festival. Henry performed after being bitten by a very large potato cod while scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef; Jon went on to perform the world’s longest violin solo: 12 hours in a glass-lined room.

The last piece, Notes, was composed for Lennie Tristano, who, like Mr. Poe, enjoyed an occasional Descent Into The Maelstrom.

bd3.gif

BD3: Evan Parker at the Finger Palace (LP)

Evan Parker: Soprano Saxophone Solo
Recorded November 2, 1978
Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, Berkeley, California, USA
LP: presently out of print

Some say their lives were changed, others say their ears were cleaned beyond recognition; some began practicing their instruments, others gave them up completely. But everyone was willing to pay more (than $3.00) to get into Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace after that.

“The Incredible Evan Parker, On Tour From England, Performing Extended Improvisations,” outmaneuvered the billing for that second night in November 1978. And fortunately for everyone, a very good recording was made and subsequently released in LP form as “Evan Parker at The Finger Palace.”

The record revealed Evan Parker’s mastery of the soprano saxophone in a brilliant 46-minute solo, which was broken into two parts for the disc and titled, appropriately, Fingerprints, Parts 1 & 2. It would be nice to reissue this glorious music in CD format, unified and unfaded in the middle, and The Beak Doctor is looking closely into the Mirror of Possibilities. But the LP record has always given pleasure beyond even the most peculiar of imaginations (the artwork on the cover, by Jean de Bosschère, is a perfect match to the music), and something must be said for flipping Evan over in the middle of his flipping us so magically. As Woody rightly prophesied at the time, “This Music Will Bend Your Pineal Gland Twice!” How did he know?

bd2.gif

BD2: ABRACADABRA (LP)

Evan Parker: Tenor Saxophone
Greg Goodman: Unprepared Piano
Recorded November 1978
Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, Berkeley, California, USA
LP: presently out of print

The recording of ABRACADABRA in November of 1978 was one of the earlier ones at Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, which had just opened itself up to the public a few months before. Evan Parker had dark hair and Greg Goodman had some; things were slightly different in 2002 when they toured together (with George Cremaschi) in The Czech Republic. One thing clear from the last sentence is that Mr. Parker & Mr. Goodman have continued a somewhat strange and extended conversation for 25 years: from The Finger Palace to Prague (including an evening in Russian Mafia-run Karlovi Vary) in a twinkling of a note. There were other excursions in England and California/West Coast during the ‘80’s & ‘90’s, but 1978 saw their first encounter, and the music revealed was recorded in performances over two nights.

Side A of this vinyl (LP) recording has two pieces: “Aftercadabra” (7:43) and “Abracadaver” (10:16). Side B has an extended piece with the name “The Fly-Hog Replied With A Lisp…” (22:53), which was a line from Jean de Bosschère’s The City Curious and from which the cover art was also exhumed. All pieces were “composed” by Mr. Parker & Mr. Goodman in a delirious state of good taste, after having eaten what reluctantly must be described as a series of abundant and very satisfying meals.

bd1.gif

BD1: A Similar Review (LP)

Greg Goodman: Solo Piano
Recorded August 1978
Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace, Berkeley, California, USA
LP: presently out of print

This August 1978 recording was the first documentation of music at Woody Woodman’s Finger Palace. It records the score for the theatrical performance of “The Disclosure Of Gasoline Rationing & The Death And Resurrection Of The WoodYear Blimp!” The script called for various feats of strength as it examined the current fate of Americans trying to get their cars to the moon: potatoes were employed as fuel and were rather prevalent in this performance.

The WoodYear Blimp, constructed mostly of the lightest of materials so as to achieve ever-better buoyancy (aluminum, or, as the British like to say, aluminium, but that’s a bit too heavy for our purposes) was seen to Crash-Fat into a Crater Of Flaming Raw Chicken. This latter was achieved, or at least delivered to the audience, using a broom handle to shove a Chinese Wok onto the stage with whole raw chickens akimbo (we think that this is a Japanese concept) and overhanging the edges, almost, like the audience, trying to escape; the WoodYear Blimp was then observed crashing into the Crater (accomplished by Woody Woodman in his Traditional Lightning Cape: yellow bold against black slick background, the bolt of lightning leaping beyond the edges of the cape, inside or other side flashy silver, the whole thing very, very short, except for the Lightning Bolt, which looked like a banana slug with rigor mortis, and wearing his Special Reflecting & Pointed Head-Gear), which was subsequently and immediately set on fire with lighter fluid and the “WoodYear Blimp Crash-Fatted Into the Flaming Chicken Crater” was complete.

The entire script was read aloud, off stage, at different intervals, and Woody Woodman would appear to execute, and we mean that, the Tragedy. Greg Goodman played the score on piano and more or less revealed whatever Woody was intent on portraying. Food was then served to the remaining audience, but of course, not the chickens.

source