One of the great lies in the history of the avant-garde is that everything happened in major metropolitan cities such as New York, Paris, and Berlin. The box set Music from the ONCE Festival 1961-1966 (New World) reaffirms the fact that adventurous innovation also happened in small burgs like ONCE's home, Ann Arbor, Michigan. In its heyday, the ONCE festival featured the music of Robert Ashley, Pauline Oliveros, and David Behrman, all of whom exerted substantial influence as composers and teachers from the 1960s onward. Although any five-disc set is bound to be uneven, this set is an important document containing fine pieces with live electronics pioneers Gordon Mumma, Oliveros, and David Tudor, as well as Ashley's classic tape work, The Fourth of July, and George Cacioppo's Time on Time in Miracles.

Another interesting time capsule is The Complete 10-Inch Series from Cold Blue. Back in the early 1980s, Cold Blue specialized in moody, ethereal music with a composerly edge. This three-disc anthology from the recently revived label collects Cold Blue's early-'80s releases of then-contemporary music. Scented with a distinctly laid-back, at times lonely, West Coast feel, there's a wealth of music here, from Michael Jon Fink's somber, limpid piano music to Chas Smith's haunting tunes for pedal steel guitar that howl and moan like coyotes in the distant desert.

I've also delved deeply into Miles Davis' The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (Sony/Legacy), recorded in 1970 for the soundtrack of Jack Johnson, a loose film biography of the early 20th-century boxing champion. Every disc cooks with prophetic, top-notch countrified jazz-funk; I love the short-circuited chip sputters that start "Honky Tonk (Take 2)" and the snarling guitar riffs that spatter the various takes of "Go Ahead John." Essential. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

chris@delaurenti.net