07.10.2011, Words by Zara Wladawsky

Optimo Podcast 10 - Astral Travelling

Optimo’s latest podcast is an interplanetary voyage through the time and spaces of free jazz. Rather than paraphrase JD Twitch’s words, we’ll let him tell you what it’s all about:

“Astral. Jazz.

If you are a deep listener of cosmic / astral / spiritual / free / exotic etc. jazz then skip this as there probably won’t be any surprises here. I don’t for a minute profess to be any sort of expert with regard to this music and know I am only scratching the surface, but what I have listened to is some of thee most transcendental music I have ever heard. Listened to at the right time and the right place, there is no other music i know that will transport me to such a blissful inner space.

I guess my introduction to this music came courtesy of Soul Jazz Records and their wonderful 1995 “Universal Sounds Of America” compilation (http://www.discogs.com/Various-Universal-Sounds-Of-America/release/405103). i’d been desperate to hear Sun Ra for a long time but back then his music was very hard to get hold of. Sun Ra was a revelation, everything I’d hoped for and much more, and so was everything else on the album. At this time, FOPP records in Glasgow was one of the best record shops in the country. The owner was a jazz fanatic and sold an incredible selection of long out of print vinyl and cd jazz albums at very low prices, many of which he had licensed and had repressed specifically to stock in his chain. The prices were low enough that it was possible to risk buying albums one knew nothing about on the chance they might be great, and most of them were. I discovered wonderful albums by Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Sonny Sharrock, Alice Coltrane, Pharaoah Sanders and many more that opened my mind in a different way from any music I had previously encountered. As a result of FOPP’s super cheap vinyl policy, these records filtered around Glasgow and records that would be cult favourites in other parts of the world would be heard all over the place here. I remember one Sunday morning going to my local newsagent’s to get some milk and hearing Alice Coltrane’s “Journey In Satchidanada” rippling through the shop. Allegedly FOPP were selling as many copies of “Bitches Brew” as they were of Radiohead’s “The Bends”. I sometimes wonder if this had any impact on the music that was being made in Glasgow around this time? Myself and Jonnie did our first and only studio session together back then with a local act who were trying to channel Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Keiji Heino and Kim Fowley! Needless to say the results were an unlistenable mess but the spirit of adventure was definitely in the Glasgow air.

As with most music I like, this is all over the place, both in form and with regard to when it was recorded. Some of it will instantly calm your deepest woes while some of it may challenge your ears to the maximum, but, all of it is music that seems to have been beamed to its makers from a dimension the vast majority of us are not in touch with. “Deep” is a much misused and abused word with regard to music but these sonic missives are the embodiment of that word. Immerse yourself.”

Optimo Podcast 10 – Astral Travelling by JD Twitch

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