Edition of 250 LPs with download code.
Maiden release for the luminous soundtrack to Bill Gunn and Ishmael Reed’s video-shot “meta-soap opera” Personal Problems, a film made in 1980 and starring writer, culinary anthropologist and one-time member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor.
The first side of this LP presents Carman Moore’s original score as it was recorded in New York City in 1980, and the second is made up of improvisations by Moore on the themes from the score, recorded in 2019. New York-based, Ohio-born Moore was described by Ornette Coleman as “the greatest composer, not just in New York, but in the whole world”; the appreciation was mutual and you can perhaps detect the influence of Ornette in the exquisite wail of 'Funeral Sax', one of the ten original cues assembled here. It's a knockout suite, genial and warm but exquisitely refined, and if I was approaching it blind, I think I'd find it difficult to place: with their resplendent chamber-folk arrangements and woozy rubbery basslines, pieces like 'Tema 1' and the majestic 'Love Trouble' put me in mind of Robert Wyatt circa Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, and (if you squint) the minimal pastoral dream-pop of Flaming Tunes and Woo - albeit with a stoic soul-jazz cadence that is unmistakably late '70s Gotham. It's never ponderous, the whole thing has the dynamism and physicality of a real, effective soundtrack - 'New York Trouble Groove' could be Schifrin. Moore’s pedal-heavy solo piano excursions offer a more austere, but no less humane or compelling refocussing of the core original pieces’ ravishing bloozy romanticism. Phenomenal music, highest possible recommendation for anyone into life + loving.