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Thumbscrew:
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The seventh album from the exceptional free improvising jazz trio Thumbscrew of Michael Formanek on double bass, electronics, Tomas Fujiwara on drums, vibraphone and Mary Halvorson on guitar, with compositions from all members as they refine and expand on their communal interplay fueled by the great chemistry forged over their near decade of recording and performing. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall Quintet (w / Saunders / Foote / Owston / Bashford):
Yes Tomorrow (Discus)

An exhilarating departure from saxophonist Paul Dunmall's Coltrane-esque approach to free improvisation with this electrified quintet of Steven Saunders on guitar, Richard Foote on trombone, James Owston on bass and Jim Bashford on drums, playing with upbeat urgency through a set of Dunmall compositions, often letting Saunder's riffs take the foreground around a first-rate set of solos. ... Click to View


Julie Tippetts / Martin Archer:
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Their first album after a 6-year break, the collaboration of vocalist Julie Tippetts and multi-reedist & electronic artist Martin Archer is heard in two distinct presentations: a large and stunningly complex suite with an ensemble of acoustic and electronic artists; and a sequence of 13 separate and contrasting songs, performed by various small groups drawn from the JTMA Ensemble. ... Click to View


Jason Purtill (feat. Leo Genovese / Sean Conly):
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Meeting in the studio with an open mind to approach, guitarist Justin Purtill and long-time friend, pianist Leo Genovese, are joined by bassist Sean Conly to record this set of original Purtrill songs, along with songs by John Hurt, Joe Price, and the title track by Bob Dylan, a relaxed and expressive session of jazz-based originals and interpretations. ... Click to View


Chris Pitsiokos :
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Each of the eight tracks on NY saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos' 2nd solo release for Relative Pitch is named for a type of stone--"Obsidian", "Feldspar", "Anthracite", &c.--each a unique take on its mineral counterpart through incredible technique and concentration, taking the alto saxophone into extreme or reflective territory complementing the nature of each element. ... Click to View


Jon Lipscomb:
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Swedish guitar improviser Jon Lipscomb (LOPLOP, Swedish Fix) takes his listeners on a rugged trip across the strings, using distortion, tremolo and rapid-fire technique as he mines territories between free improv, noise and rock, his nimble mind stopping to explore areas of interest then cascading into new, turbulent environments; frightfully powerful. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani / Donald Miller / Rob Cambre / Emmalee Sutton :
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A recurring trio in New Orleans between touring percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and guitarists Rob Cambre (Malevitus, Rough Seven, The Death Posture) and Donald Miller (Borbetomagus) performing at Mudland Public Theatre in 2018 for two extended, gritty and ringing exchanges. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani / Kris Tiner:
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An extended improvisation in two parts at Dagny's Coffe Company in Bakersfield, CA: first a solo performance by Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani in a sweeping sonic manifestation of bowed gongs, cymbals, bass drums and objects, which then continues as a duo with trumpeter Kris Tiner for an exhilaratingly peak of adept brass excitement ending in a pensive reflection. ... Click to View


Rie Nakajima / Takahiro Kawaguchi:
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Rapid and lucid activity of mechanical and organic activity, a mad mechanism under the control of master machinists perking the ears in inexplicable ways, from the collaboration of Japanese sound artists Rie Nakajima and Takahiro Kawaguchi, their uncredited sources seemingly a mix of motors, bells, squeaky toys, material flurries, whistles, &c. &c.; playfully fascinating. ... Click to View


The Haters / Kavader:
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A split cassette of dark industrial noise from the long-running experimental sound unit The Haters founded by G.X. Jupitter-Larsen, in a cantankerous 10 minute buzz saw drone; and a "Venemous Agent" from the Israeli noise band Kadaver, aka Michael Zolotov, in a cycling work that builds to an oscillating throb of metalic and rumbling sources; edition of 75. ... Click to View


Anthony Braxton / James Fei:
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Composed for a performance at the 2021 OM 25 Festival in San Fransisco between saxophonist & composer Anthony Braxton and saxophonist James Fei, "Composition 429" uses Braxton's new music system Lorraine, a combination of traditional notation and color-coded symbols of the composer's design to indicate specific sound types or performance techniques. ... Click to View


Alexander Schlippenbach von :
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Wild, nearly unprecedented and an exhilarating direction in European Free Improvisation heard in the 1st recordings from 1966 of pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity band, a 14-piece ensemble that included young saxophonists Peter Brötzmann, Gerd Dudek & Kris Wanders, bassist Peter Kowald, bass clarinetist Willem Breuker, trumpeter Manfred Schoof, &c. ... Click to View


Alexander Schlippenbach von :
Globe Unity [VINYL] (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Wild, nearly unprecedented and an exhilarating direction in European Free Improvisation heard in the 1st recordings from 1966 of pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity band, a 14-piece ensemble that included young saxophonists Peter Brötzmann, Gerd Dudek & Kris Wanders, bassist Peter Kowald, bass clarinetist Willem Breuker, trumpeter Manfred Schoof, &c. ... Click to View


Devin Waldman Brahja / Hamid Drake:
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Evoking the spirit of a seance experienced by alto saxophonist Devin Brahja Waldman, the duo of Waldman and drummer Hamid Drake are captured live at Elastic Arts, in Chicago, beginning as a mysteriously delicate concert of intricately introspective playing and spiritual reflection, building to a free jazz drum & sax duo of powerful and enthusiastic release. ... Click to View


Aonghus McEvoy :
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Beautifully flowing acoustic avant folk under a diverse set of influences from the Dublin five-piece band led by acoustic and electric guitarist Aonghus McEvoy, with George Brennan on electronics, David Lacey on drums, Sean Maynard Smith on upright bass and Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh on viola, evolving their tracks from pastoral to edgy agitation or ecstatic drone. ... Click to View


Artur Malecki & The Creature Trio (w/ Chmiel / Aftyka):
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Widoki, Polish for Views, is the debut album of the free improvising trio of Artur Malecki on drums, Michal Aftyka on double bass & electric bass and Przemylaw Chmiel on tenor & soprano saxophones, performing seven compositions from drummer Malecki and one collective improvisation, a strong and wide-ranging set of recordings from a band with a fresh perspective on creative jazz. ... Click to View


Cyprien Busolini / Bertrand Gauguet:
Miroir (Akousis Records)

An album of intensive listening through concentrated improvisation from the long-running collaboration of French improvisers, Cyprien Busolini on viola and Bertrand Gauguet on alto saxophone, both using unfaltering techniques as they metamorphose their instruments from delicate silence to forceful tones, oscillating and vacillating across two extended improvisations. ... Click to View


Tragic Assembly:
Blood Drains And Memories (Soul City Sounds)

The Durham, NC free improvising trio of Crowmeat Bob on alto & tenor saxophones, clarinet & guitar, Phil Venable on double bass and Charles Chance on drums notch up their playing, with Crowmeat Bob performing on both reeds and electric guitar as the band explores breaking down the barrier between subconsciousness and expression through collective improv. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani / Kyle Motl:
Quicksand (Nakatani-Kobo)

Innovative Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani met with bassist Kyle Motl (Peter Kuhn Trio) at Nakatani Kobo Studio, in New Mexico to record these two extended improvisations, the 1st creating an aural environment through ringing metal and bowed contrabass, the 2nd a set of agitated and disruptive interactions through incredible technical skill and expressive dialog. ... Click to View


Bun Itakura / Mishio Ogawa :
Stardust (Ultragash)

A flowing twilight electro-jazz cover of the standard "Stardust" from Japanese guitarist Bun Itakura and vocalist Mishio Ogawa, expanding the melody and Ogawa's phrasing with encompassing electronics and percussion from Takefumi Kobayashi; backed with an experimental "Mystery Making Factory" using paint brush, harmonic tone guitar, and mbira. ... Click to View


River People (Bucher / Countryman / Alegre / Hori):
Sol Expression (ChapChap Records)

Evoking images of Indigenous Filipinos through free improvisation, with titles referencing the rivers, rains and environment that define them, the multi-national River People quartet of Christian Bucher on drums, Johnny Alegre on guitar, Tetsuro Hori on bass and Rick Countryman on alto saxophone are captured in the studio in Manila for seven superb collective conversations. ... Click to View


Sana Nagano:
Anime Mundi (577 Records)

A superb chamber jazz trio from NY improviser and violinist Sana Nagano, with Karl Berger on piano & vibraphone and Billy Martin on drums & percussion, Nagano having a long history with each through Berger's Improvisers Orchestra and with Martin through Creative Music Studio, their connections evident in their articulately energetic and confident collective conversations. ... Click to View


Sana Nagano:
Anime Mundi [VINYL] (577 Records)

A superb chamber jazz trio from NY improviser and violinist Sana Nagano, with Karl Berger on piano & vibraphone and Billy Martin on drums & percussion, Nagano having a long history with each through Berger's Improvisers Orchestra and with Martin through Creative Music Studio, their connections evident in their articulately energetic and confident collective conversations. ... Click to View


Hal Russell / Joel Futterman:
The Chicago River [3 CDs] (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Late Chicago saxophonist, trumpeter & vibraphonist Hal Russell (NRG Ensemble) and legendary pianist Joel Futterman, also on curved soprano saxophone & Indian flue, are heard in the complete recordings from their two day concert for the victims of the 1992 Great Flood of the Chicago River, presenting a five part work of flowing free jazz force and currents of creative power. ... Click to View


Blue Lines Trio (Scheen / van der Weide / Hadow):
Chance and Change (Casco Records)

The free swinging Dutch piano trio of Michiel Scheen on piano, Raoul van der Weide on contrabass, cracklebox & objects and George Hadow on drums, in a set of buoyant and ebullient improvisations, a mix of composed and collective works that bring together tradition and freedom, melody and abstraction, while clearly enjoying their playful approach to creative jazz. ... Click to View


Magnus Granberg :
Night Will Fade and Fall Apart [2 CDs] (thanatosis produktion)

The 6 piece Tya Ensemble of string, piano, percussion and vibraphone performs Swedish composer Magnus Granberg's beautifully delicate and dusky work, conceived from historic and recent song structures and written so that individual parts also may be performed as solo pieces, as heard in an extended ensemble version and four solo and one duo configuration. ... Click to View


Alex Zethson:
Residy (thanatosis produktion)

The Residy, or remains of a unique variation on JS Bach's Goldberg Variation no. 21, performed live by pianist Alex Zethson who maintains the structure, rhythmic movement and note order of Bach's composition, while dispersing the notes and intervals into two synths and an E-bowed grand piano to evoke these meditative and expansive interpretations. ... Click to View


Gareth Davis / Machinefabriek:
Standards (of Sorts) (Sublime Retreat)

Frequent collaborators Rutger Zyderveldt (Machinefabriek) and bass & contrabass clarinetist Gareth Davis join together for five "Standards" through electronics, synthetics and unorthodox reed work, transmuting their instruments as they create variations from a few notes, some of them "misremembered", from jazz and contemporary classical standards. ... Click to View


Amelia Cuni / Alex Mendizabal:
Stimmen Aus Himmel Und Holle (ANTS Records)

Translating to "Voices from Heaven and Hell", the meeting of two Berlin artists--Amelia Cuni, whose vocal work is described as in/voluntary singing; and Alex Mendizabal, a sound artist who here electronically manipulates the voice of Cuni--using texts from poet Erin Honeycutt as the two apply diverse, fascinating and sometimes unnerving approaches to voice, utterance and expression. ... Click to View


Various Artists:
Free Percussion/Water [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Tsss Tapes)

Demonstrating the striking diversity modern solo percussionists present, the Italian tape label TSSS Tapes compiles an international set of solo works from explorers Tim Daisy, Jeph Jerman, Ted Byrnes, Wojtek Kurek, Clinton Green, Rie Nakajima, Emilio Berne, Shakeeb Abu Hamdan, Lucie Nezri, Karen Willems, Paolo Sanna, Li Qing, Carlos Godinho, and Rodrigo Vieira. ... Click to View



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Instrumentals
We've asked a number of musicians to write about their instruments of choice, taking a view that is either personal, historical or, in some cases, just unusual. The results are to be found in these pages.


  The Violin (& The Infidel)  


By Jon Rose 2002-12-17

infidel: a person who does not believe in religion or who adheres to a religion other than that of the majority eg. they wanted to secure the holy places from the infidel

origin: late 15th century; from the French infidele or the Latin infidelis, from in = not + fidelis = faithful (from fides =faith, related to fidere = to trust. The word has two distinct origins. 1) It denoted a person of a religion other than one's own, specifically a Muslim (to a Christian), a Christian (to a Muslim), or a Gentile (to a Jew). 2) With the invention of the violin circa 1530 and the confusing transformation of bowed strings from vernacular fidel , via fiddle to violin, viola, viole, violone, and viol (as it happens completely unrelated to the violin), the word fidel became a word of abuse denoting loose living or corrupt dealings as in fiddle your fancy, on the fiddle, fiddling around, or indeed the dismissive term get fiddled. The fiddle has given rise to many misreadings of history, most notably the assertion that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned", clearly impossible as by the first century AD, the instrument had not yet been invented. Other misconceptions abound, for example, that Jewish people always play the fidel on the roof, that Romany (or Gypsy) fiddlers always keep a knife in their left boot, that all famous fiddlers suffer from Paganini's serious complaint of a permanent erection. Today's common usage is obviously underscored by the present dearth of work for the practicing violinist, In fidel we trust, everybody else pay cash.

So what is it about the violin that makes it so untrustworthy? Is it due to the current world situat ion? A question worth asking as the divide between the rich and the poor on this planet continues to widen at an ex ponential rate. The instrument has become an icon of capitalism, that's for sure. Like old oil paintings of the rich and flatuous, old violins are a kind of inflated currency, the guaranteed investment, the item at houses of Southerbys and Christies that makes the auctioneer's wet their pants. I have played a $600,000 Guernarius and, shock horror, it was a good instrument. But it was no better than a $20,000 top of the line fiddle from a good modern maker.

The violin is 70 bits of wood stuck together. I discovered this as a child after I had been studying the instrument for a few months. Now the early days on a violin are not too enjoyable for the player or the listener, be you a Heifitz or a no-hoper. It is a very frustrating time. I felt things weren't going fast enough, so with one blow, I smashed the fiddle over the kitchen table. Now I would like to point out a number of issues at this point. Firstly, this was not a Fluxus performance as 1) I was a kid and 2) this was still in the 1950's. Secondly, it was not my instrument and was actually a piece of crap that belonged to the school. Thirdly, that doesn't matter because a violin, any violin is "of value," right? Fourthly, my father was a regular bricaleur who, as a prisoner of war in Japan, had made a two-string cello out of bits of camp detritus; he calmly spent the evening sticking it back together again (he had actually tried to make a piano for a concert pianist in the camp and had got as far as a sound board and 2 keys working before disaster struck, but that is another story altogether). Fifthly, my violin teacher never noticed.

Indeed genetics must have something to do with the whole violin conundrum. On my mother's side I am partly Afghan, her family name was Kahn, which could have meant me doing hours of practice on the Saranda instead of Satan's instrument itself. People often used to ask me if I was Jewish. "Plays the violin? Must be Jewish," goes the rocket science. So I'm in the minority then, or at least on the opposing team. This all came home to me just recently when I wrote a slightly off-center composition called "The Islamic Violin," it included the detonation of an ordinary violin which I was able to realize at a performance in Paris at the beginning of this year. The story, like most great stories, is based on a true one featuring a street violinist with a foreign name who stored his violin in a bus station left luggage cubicle in Hamilton, Canada. An official of the bus company became suspicious of the violin case and alerted the police, who with due care and subtlety, took it out onto the street and blew it up! "Due to the current world situation," explained the Police as they handed a few bits of wood and string back to the devastated musician. The score of the composition has the following notes on the notes:

(1) The inability of Muslims to recognise a violin manifests itself through the entire Lebanese restaurant industry in Australia. During and after the Lebanese civil war of the 1950's, the 1960's, the 1970's and the 1980's, many families from both Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon emigrated to Australia. A tradition quickly grew whereby Christian Lebanese restaurants would always display the sign of the violin outside their premises (some of these are quite remarkable art pieces of neon, post-digestive, calligraphic Arabic deco). Research has shown that many Muslim Lebanese literally DO NOT SEE the violin, thinking that it may be some kind of indiginous pig or plant life or worse, a Christian plot conceived by the CIA (who run a number of military bases in Australia). One could think that the Muslim restaurants would be running a counter campaign of non recognition posting any number of Islamic bowed instruments in retaliation to this provocatio n, (One considers here the Afghani rebab or dilruba as suitable images to represent all that is fine in Muslim culture) but one would be mistaken. Muslims do not stoop to such low immoral subterfuge, relying instead on the final statement of account which must be paid at that restaurant in the sky.

(2) I should point out that I had actually brought a violin (a 'Tortellini' 1751) with me for the good Sheikh to study but after a cursorary glance and a rap on its historic body with the knuckles of his left hand, he had thrown it to his trusty dog who then proceeced to gnaw on it happily through out the entire interview.

(3) A quote that comes from the pyramid breaking tome 'Yehudi Menuhin serves Capitalism' by the influencial Marxist composer and violinist virtuoso Dr. Johannes Rosenberg. In a classic Rosenberg/Menuhin confrontation, the latter violinist is cornered as he admits to denouncing Ravi Shankar as a poser who pays no attention to speed limits, Stephane Grapelli as having bad intonation, Rumanian Gypsy music as being 'rather dirty stuff one wouldn't want next door in Hampstead,' and himself as having said 'actually classical music IS rather superior, don't you think?'

(4) From the best seller 'How to Blow Up a Violin' by Buttblaster Fuller. It includes a hand-drawn map of an average violin, indicating the weaker, more sensitive zones of spiral vibration where the four charges should be placed with 1/4 strips of gaffe tape (Please note that 'Scotch Tape' will NOT do). Alternative routes for the fuse wires are suggested depending on the reader's level of experience and expertise in dealing with their first violin assignment. Questions of budgetary allowancea re always prevalent in the modern day violin world, so the cheaper alternative has also been tested thoroughly throu gh correspondance courses in 'Final Violin Solutions' made available by The Mother of All Museums Museum, Baghdad. They suggest that four 'Tigre Bison 3' fireworks packed in the base of the violin with simultaneous ignition will blow the devil's instrument to 'Kingdom Come': results obtained with a cheap East German Eduard Tausher model seem to bare out Buttblaster's assertions.

---which may account for the sudden interest in my Web site from a US military search engine - unless there are some contemporary music freaks working at the Pentagon who spend their time searching the Web for weird violin stuff. I'm not kidding, I had over 3,000 hits last month from the defenders of the free.

In April my partner, violinist Hollis Taylor, and I were working on our 'Great Fences of Australia' project near Alice Springs in the middle of Australia. It's a kind of sonic map of the whole continent. We bow the fences, which we consider to be giant string instruments. In fact they are the longest artifacts in the world, the so called 'Dingo Fence' is twice as long as the Great Wall of China. So far we have traveled over 16,000 kilometers in our endeavor. Anyway I phoned up the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near 'The Alice' and asked if we could make a little recording of their perimeter fence. Well the head dude humored me for some minutes and I thought we had a chance till I mentioned we played the fiddle --- "No." The conversation was immediately terminated. 'Due to the current world situation' he barked.


(c)www.jonroseweb.com

the violin warping website remains
www.jonroseweb.com

for a guide to the weird, the wild and the vern ac ular in Australian music
www.abc.net.au/arts/adlib

Visit the Jon Rose Section at Squidco!




Previous Instrumental Articles:
The Accordion (& the Outsider) - Pauline Oliveros
The Guitar (& Why) - Derek Bailey
The Banjo (& guitarist Johnny PayCheck) - Eugene Chadbourne


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