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Moving Body Salon - Solo Set

Friday April 12 at 7:00 pm

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On June 22 we released an otherworldly video/film that accompanies a 1988 recording of a quite beautiful old song called July. The song was written in 1986 on the Fourth of July shortly after my return to NYC, after nine years in SF. I had sublet a rundown loft on Prince Street in a building that was being renovated. It was empty, and I was the only occupant, living in the middle story of three floor-throughs. It was very hot (New York City in July), which was a bit of a shock after SF, and there was a lot of distant noise coming through the windows after the big fireworks, the New York tradition of lots of random street fireworks, and there happened to be a beat-up grand piano there in the loft. I don't know why it was there. I could find my way around a few piano chords in those days, and that night I came up with this tune. Over the next few days, the (pre-famous downtown star) Nora York came over from her nearby flat in Little Italy and together we figured out the words and story of July. A year or so later I met Judy Whitfield, herself a fabulous singer and writer, and she helped solve the problem of a single line that had stubbornly continued to resist its perfection, and the song was done.

With Judy on board, we found a friendly keyboardist (whom we can't remember any longer, unfortunately) and one night we traveled to his storefront apartment somewhere in the dark recesses of Brooklyn, which was not so friendly in those days, to try to record it. We worked up an unusual yet minimal arrangement, Judy sang, I added some saxophone, and we did it live directly to a cassette in one shot. I remember Judy singing in the living room with the keyboardist, while I did my horn down a narrow hallway where I couldn't see anyone but it had a nice reverberation. Sometimes everything just clicks. This was in 1988 on the last night of July, and during the recording there were massive thunderstorms going on outside. Talk about atmosphere and mood... In 2009 I was doing some work with Reed Robins at his MacIntyre Music studio, and decided to have the cassette digitized and mastered for safekeeping. Reed did a fantastic job of making that cassette sound decent, and that was that. This past May it popped up on my shuffle play out of the blue, and it sounded surprisingly good. Around this time, a songwriter friend of mine, Steve Schalchlin, had been making very intriguing videos to accompany some of his own recordings, and he seemed open to trying things if I had an interesting song. Figuring what the heck, I sent him July to see if it might resonate with him. Maybe because of his musical theater background, it seemed to. He carried it around in his head for a while, and then one day he randomly discovered "The Tunnel" in an upper Manhattan subway, like a time capsule of 1980s graffitti culture. He saw right away that there was something special about it, and began filming his walk. Everything that happens in the video happened spontaneously. It was just like that. I hope against hope that everyone here will have the patience to immerse yourselves in this astounding video and music performance all the way through, and feel the magic that happens.



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Descartes Says (unreleased, new song demo 5-8-23)

Degas In The Meadow (unreleased, live at Moving Body Salon, Manhattan 4-7-23)

The Minnesota Twins (unreleased, live at Moving Body Salon, Manhattan 4-7-23)

Feels Like Rain (acoustic version, live at Moving Body Salon, Manhattan 4-7-23)



Norman Salant and DJ Shadow?

Nearly forgot about this, as it happened just before the pandemic, but it deserves a mention. Toward the end of 2019, DJ Shadow came calling with an idea for a track he hoped  to create for his new double album, Our Pathetic Age. He wanted to sample Bowieszawa from my first album, Saxaphone Demonstrations, to use on a song called JoJo's Words (specifically titled JoJo’s Words feat. Stro). The result was pretty strange and sort of creepy/scary. In other words, fantastic!  Listen to it here.


Who Will Remember Me (unreleased, live at Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn 2-19-23)

BoomBoomThwack (unreleased, live at Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn 2-12-23)

The Poet's Poem (unreleased, live at Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn 2-5-23)

  Degas In The Meadow (unreleased, live at Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn 1-29-23)



R.I.P. Benjamin Bossi, thanks for sharing part of the journey, it meant the world to me.



Well, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Only two and a half years of pandemic -- and here we are! Ok, that was actually pretty rough. And now we emerge with... what?

Here's what I can tell you: We unearthed a fantastic tape of the Norman Salant Group recorded on July 4, 1982 in San Francisco at the very fine Automatt Studio by Maureen Droney, who was apprenticing there at the time. Studios were usually unbooked on big holidays, and indie bands would sometimes sneak in with assistant engineers who were looking for experience running sessions. Thanks, Maureen, you really did an incredible job there - that was a complicated mix! We knocked out our live arrangement of Golden Arm, originally track 1, album 1 (Saxaphone Demonstrations) if anybody remembers. This version is an absolute killer and seems to embody everything that was the best of what the band was trying to do. The Norman Salant Group included: Jeff Nathanson (synths, guitar), the late Morey Goldstein (sax, from The Readymades), Steve Ashman (bass, soon to found the Zazu Pitts Memorial Orchestra), Bruce Slesinger (drums, Dead Kennedys), and Jeff Kaplan (guitar).


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What else? Leading up to and during the early stages of the pandemic, I began work on -- and then temporarily set aside -- two albums, but earlier this year decided upon an entirely different sort, something I could work on by myself at home. Which pretty much means just voices, guitars, and saxophones, at least for the most part. But as I started gathering songs, and woodshedding like crazy I should add, it just got bigger and bigger, and now it’s up to ten sides. What I mean is, it was conceived as a series of sequenced album sides with songs that fit together as a set, rather than just a random collection of all the songs. Very old school, as if it were going on vinyl. So, beware the 10-sided album. It's going to be called  Nobody's Psychedelic No More.

Meanwhile, the return to in-person venues means I've been back in Brooklyn at the Pete's Candy Store open mic, trying out all these songs in front of people (you're welcome to drop in every Sunday afternoon). And if you've read this far, I may as well mention that next weekend November 11-13 I'll be at NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance) to perform at four different showcases, and the following Friday Novemeber 18 I'll be debuting some new songs at the first post-pandemic in-person Moving Body Salon -- in Manhattan. And that's the news.



Just out: a fantastic write-up in ccovering all four 2018 releases and addressing both the songwriting and saxophone eras:

"'Four frickin' albums last year? What the hell? What could he possibly do for an encore? ... Norman Salant left the experimental jazz world to slum with acoustic guitar slingers. Finally."  -- Jonathan Berger    READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE (it's on page 10)

Always All Around You 

Put your headphones on, turn it up, and dive into an extraordinary sonic experience. Always All Around You is an amusement park of sounds and styles, with lyrics ranging from storytelling to absurdism to Americana to the end of the world.


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"'Always All Around You' is something apart, an album made for the long haul, one made the old way and harks back to a time when record labels would develop and nurture an artist across a number of albums rather than looking for three hit singles and 2 million sales. Ironically, this is an album which in a more discerning world would hit that benchmark without breaking its stride. If there is a better pop ballad than 'Grace' doing the rounds I will eat my hat. It is dream-like, gentle, intimate and perfectly crafted, understated, lyrically engaging and utterly gorgeous. To be honest, if that was the only good song on the album it would still be worth the purchase price; but rather than being an exception, 'Grace' is actually a calling card for a collection of great songs. 'Always All Around You' feels as if it could have been made at any time in the last 60 years but never at any point sounds dated, retro or out of step with fashion. Real beauty, natural beauty, sonic beauty: qualities that this album has running through it right to its core." -- Dave Franklin, Dancing About Architecture   READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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 The crown jewel of the saxophone archives, Sax/On contains some of the best saxophone work Salant ever did, recorded in New York in the early 1990s. It features the only recordings of the landmark Moving Planet Orchestra, a groundbreaking ensemble combining middle-eastern sound, style, and instrumentation with modal post-bop western instruments and extremely high-energy improvisational saxophone. Also included are two installments of Saxophone Stories, a series of meditative, totally improvised solo soprano saxophone performances.


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Late Night In The Loft

Late Night In The Loft was a live trio performance in San Francisco in 1983. The trio was created not long after the Norman Salant group had disbanded. In hindsight, it was a forerunner to the 1991 Moving Planet Orchestra featured on Sax/On -- improvisational with middle eastern underpinnings, but in this performance extremely minimal.


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Yodeling Goodbye

The first full-length songwriter album, released in May 2018. The songs were selected from the larger Yodeling Goodbye project (five 4-song EPs), then re-edited, remastered, and re-sequenced. "I'd really thought that albums were over and that music was being experienced mainly as individual disconnected songs, but happily I was very wrong. The album concept is alive and well, and it's great to be able to work with larger thematic ideas." 


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"An honest effort; it's relatable, it's ugly, it's beautiful, it's light-hearted, it's heavy, it's soulful, and it's reflective. Dreamy musings, and polished harmonies instill a sense of awe. I'd recommend this album to anyone looking for a deep listen." -- Bill Todde, Divide and Conquer Music; awarded Top Album, May 2018

"The arrangements are beautiful, and beautifully played. The opening song "Home" is gorgeous." -- Robert Katz, Christopher Street Coffeehouse

"Every single melody is absolutely beautiful. The stories are so personal. The production is entirely everything it could be. In "Home," the intonation alone hooks some deeper part of me that doesn't want to let go. The beautiful surrender in "All Gone Forward" haunts me long after I've listened." -- Eric Wood, songwriter, musician

Feature interview about Yodeling Goodbye in Divide and Conquer Music Magazine --  READ IT HERE

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Norman Salant is a songwriter, singer, saxophonist, composer, producer, avant-gardist, psychedelicist and sometime martini-maker based in New York City. For quite a while now, he's been more focused on songwriting, guitaring, and singing, with all their euphorias and discontents, with the saxophone part of the equation largely on hiatus barring a few cameos on some of the Yodeling Goodbye recordings and the annual September Drum Day celebration in Harlem. The martini-making might still occasionally rear its happy head at performance-enhanced Salon parties, but formal venue shows are rare. While everything seemingly gets bigger and louder, living life itself becomes smaller and quieter (and better). Over the years he's built up quite a large catalog of songs; only a small number have been recorded; that includes the eight on Yodeling Goodbye and 10 on Always All Around You. At the same time, the earlier saxophone work is being archived and eventually released; four CDs are out, and two more are still planned. As for a full-fledged return to the public arena, well, one can dream.  

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