Pandit Pran Nath La Monte Young Marian Zazeela Jung Hee Choi Charles Curtis Terry Jennings Angus Maclise Richard Maxfield Just Alap Raga Ensemble The Theater of Eternal Music Kirana Center Teaching Program

The Forever Bad Blues Band


Two hours, one song (never mind "song," one chord progression), no break and zero boredom. In fact, at the Kitchen in New York last January, pianist La Monte Young and his Forever Bad Blues Band rocked me out of my socks and into deep trance-dance hypnosis, the closest so-called art music had ever taken me to true groove heaven. This extraordinary and devilishly bewitching double CD, recorded by Young and his avant-jam combo at the Kitchen two nights later, keeps doing it again and again.

In Young's percolating keyboard attack and the extended improv-reveries of guitarist Jon Catler and bassist Brad Catler, you can hear the same blue-note pitch swerves that have been the poetry in motion of guitarists from Son House to Jimi Hendrix. The locomotive chug of Young's playing also swells with the Chicago rent-party exuberance of Jimmy Yancey and Little Richard's barrelhouse hammering.

David Fricke, Rolling Stone

If one person can be said to have defined music's avant-garde in the last half of the 20th century, it's La Monte Young. He studied with Stockhausen, beat out Eric Dolphy for the alto spot in his college dance band, and thanks to his years as spiritual leader of the Theatre of Eternal Music, which included both John Cale and Angus MacLise planted the seeds for the Velvet Underground and all who came after them.

[The] Forever Bad Blues Band...has just one tune in its repertoire, but it's a stone killer: Young's Dorian Blues in G, captured for posterity on Just Stompin': Live at the Kitchen (Gramavision). It's an intensely physical, two-hour-long piece that transfigures blues progressions and through use of his "just intonation" system (which forsakes conventional "equal-tempered" notation in favor of a 49-notes-to- the-octave system) creates a listening environment that's totally unique and surprisingly easy to grasp.

David Sprague, Request

A heady, zen-like, two-disc vamp reminiscent of Miles Davis' sublime early jazz- rock experiment, In a Silent Way.

Marc Weidenbaum, Pulse!

Between the concept and its actual execution, there's a mass of theory and application that rivals quantum physics in complexity. But you don't need to understand it to love Young's Dorian Blues in G, a piece in which each chord of a six-chord progression gets a 20-minute workout. The unusual harmonies produced through just intonation are invigorating; they resonate in the heart and soul besides ringing in your ears. Young's blues are unlike any you've heard before, and at the same time they're as pure a musical illumination of the form as you're ever likely to hear.

Glenn Kenny, Spin

The core of the performance was roadhouse blues rock, leavened with a jazz sense of improvisation.

Peter Watrous, The New York Times

The ultimate new music party disc is here.

Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

Just as the blues are only one influence in a style of composition that encompasses everything from Indian classical music to Webern to the humming of power lines, the Forever Bad Blues Band is about a lot more than the blues. Listening to Young's Dorian Blues in G the sole, two-hour piece in the band's repertoire I'm filled with the same urgent, excited feeling I felt when I first heard something as agonizingly beautiful as Robert Johnson's "Stones in My Passway." Only Young is approaching blues from the other side, the top side, where harmonic theory and microtonal minutiae are the gates that free the flow of emotion. Partly due to Young's mathematical and compositional precision, his grasp of the real meaning of musical intervals, his deeply ingrained spirituality and romanticism, and his coherence to the universal truth of sound, there's a beauty in the piece that goes beyond math, beyond the blues, and beyond music.

Neil Strauss, New York Press

La Monte Young uses the blues as a test case of his rigorous minimal concept, as pure form, cleansed of all musical-sociological connotations. His blues touches the body, enters the skin, and tests the inner organs' capacity to vibrate. The natural tuning with its mathematically precise frequency relationships creates an open, almost serenely colored atmosphere. His seemingly archaic The Forever Bad Blues Band vision reconciles the hypnosis of Minimal Music with the force of Heavy Metal, the attack of Punk, and the contemplative density of Indian music.

Peter Kemper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Tapped into some primal blues essence: boogie woogie, shuffles and stomps, country blues, Chicago electric blues, heavy metal, punk, noise, raga, modal jazz/blues, bebop, trudge, grunge and thrash all coexist, layered into the music throughout, in constant flux between overt expression and occultation.

Robert Palmer
CD Liner Notes, The Forever Bad Blues Band, Just Stompin'

[The] experimentalist composer/performer, whose famed '60s units included future Velvet Underground members John Cale and Angus MacLise, stomps quite righteously on this drone-happy, two-CD set recorded in New York in January...the quartet's searing, high-volume work becomes hypnotic during the album's two-hour running time.


Just Stompin'...may be the first avant-garde house party...its emotional effect can be galvanizing a kind of soul shower. All the loud, ringing sounds have an undeniable physical effect, triggering trances one minute, riveting attention the next. In this mass of contradictions, nothing and everything seems to happen at once; you feel as though the piece has gone on forever and that it's also just starting.

Glenn Kenny, New York Newsday

During La Monte Young's performance of his genre of blues, accompanied by The Forever Bad Blues Band at The Kitchen on Sunday night, an enormous haze of sound rose from the electronic instruments and drums. The playing seemed to create an auditory space with its own dimension and depth, within which the music took place. As in Mr. Young's other works, the listener was always discovering something about that sound, the way it shimmered around the edges or seemed to change color. Sharply emerging were drum beats, and here and there muscular electric guitar licks, variations on simple patterns that resembled traditional blues but that had a very different effect.

Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

The Forever Bad Blues Band is the first La Monte Young ensemble in a long time which, even if you know nothing about mathematics and music theory, you can dance to. It's a very loud, ecstatic, groove-based piece, but it still fits into the concept of minimalism, repeating form, and static motion.

Neil Strauss, New York Press

Never has such wildly energetic music moved so slowly.

Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

Mr. Young and his group performed a medium-tempo rock blues for two hours. In the length of the performance and its formal looseness the band hovered on one chord for minutes at a time or dashed off into a more traditional structure Mr. Young was reveling in the form's possibilities.

Peter Watrous, The New York Times

Also harmonically tuned were the wondrously smooth sounds of fretless electric bass and guitar, played by the dynamic brothers Jon and Brad Catler. Jonathan Kane displayed nearly heroic endurance on the drums.

Deedee Finney, New York Post

Having spent decades on the outermost fringes of the avant garde, composer La Monte Young is once again shocking his followers in one of the few ways he has left: He has formed a blues band...Perhaps the biggest surprise is the loud, gritty blues played by a four-piece band featuring Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitar work by Jon Catler...At its considerable best, the music on the recording inhabits an atonal netherworld between some of Young's impressionistic piano pieces such as The Well-Tuned Piano with a more driving blues manner. At times, it suggests a blues incarnation of the sort of atonal jazz improvisation Miles Davis was doing in the early 1970s during his Bitches Brew period...if the band continues to progress...it could reinvent blues with a '60s raunch and '90s sophistication.

David Patrick Stearns, USA Today

Influential composer La Monte Young has put together a roadhouse blues band to return to the stompin' style of his jazz-influenced youth...An album of instrumental, roadhouse blues may seem something of a departure for Young, a revered original, the seminal influence on both minimalism and the Fluxus movement and creator of a highly personal body of work. It makes, however, a clear, relatively compact and accessible expression of his obsessions with extended durations and just intonation, the acoustically pure tuning based on the natural harmonic series. It is also music with a long gestation period, going back to his student days in Los Angeles.

John Henken, Los Angeles Times

The music emerged as an intriguing combination of blues, 1960's happening, Eastern esthetic, rock and Minimalism.

Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

Blues lovers and rock musicians will especially benefit from the new spectrum of sound to be found here. Through the seeming redundancy one discovers Young's lesson about time: that there are different ways of listening. With no resolution in sight, the audience eventually surrenders a certain sense of tension and relaxes into the rare and luscious chord subtleties being offered.

Deedee Finney, New York Post

Once the swing began, Young kept a remarkably low profile, playing mainly a 3- against-2 pattern with occasional breaks into quick, high-register fingerwork. The stars, guitarists Jon and Brad Catler (on bass) and drummer Jonathan Kane, were tirelessly entertaining and inventive. ... There were few landmarks, but the variety was unending.

Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

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