The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Fred Van Hove / Peter Brotzmann:
Front To Front [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (Dropa Disc)

A limited edition LP documenting the duo performance between European Free Improv legends, pianist Fred Van Hove and multi-reedist Peter Brotzmann, recorded at the Summer Bummer Festival in 2019 for an intimately forceful performance, four extended dialogs of immense technical skill and creative drive, a great summation of their adventurous drive. ... Click to View


Birgit Ulher / Franz Hautzinger:
Kleine Trompetenmusik (Relative Pitch)

Translating to "Little Trumpet Music", the duo of trumpeters Birgit Uhler and Franz Hautzinger, Uhler also performing on radio & objects, use extreme techniques and approaches to their improvisations, focusing on extraneous sounds from their instruments in enigmatic and captivating ways, expansively defining reductionism in masterfully idiosyncratic ways. ... Click to View


Leap of Faith:
Principles of an Open Future (Relative Pitch)

An embraceable & explorative example of the core duo of the Boston-area free improvising ensemble Leap of Faith (the foundation of the Leap of Faith Orchestra) of David Peck on reeds and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, both employing the enormous Evil Clown arsenal of percussive and sonic devices, in two large works recorded at their headquarter studio. ... Click to View


Sylvie Courvoisier / Drew Gress / Kenny Wollesen:
Free Hoops (Intakt)

With tracks dedicated to friends, family and musicians including Claude Thornhill & John Zorn, the 3rd album from the Sylvie Courvoisier trio with Drew Gress on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums & "Wollesonics", is an exuberantly sophisticated album of slyly complex jazz compositions that both happily swing and leave room for creative exploration; extraordinary! ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani / Shane Parish / Zach Rowden:
Live At Static Age Records [CASSETTE W/DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

An exciting set of improvisations between percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, guitarist Shane Parish (Ahleuchatistas) and double bassist Zach Rowden, recorded live at Static Age Records in Asheville, NC in 2018 while Nakatani was on tour, his inventive mix of drumming and tumultuously ringing percussion perfectly complementing the introspectively energetic trio interaction. ... Click to View


Don Brown / Dan Reynolds:
D=D [HARDCOVER BOOK w/ CD] (Sacred Realism)

... Click to View


Ilia Belorukov / Jason Kahn:
Studio Album [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Notice Recordings)

Recorded in two studios--Saint-Petersburg, Russia and Zurich, Switzerland--capturing 5 encounters between experimental improvisers Ilia Belorukov performing on modular synthesizer, and Jason Kahn, who steps away from his synths and drums in favor of stark vocalizing, each providing perfectly caustic responses to the other's intense and determined tactics. ... Click to View


Robert Ashley:
Foreign Experiences (Lovely Music)

Part of the opera tetralogy Now Eleanor's Idea that Ashley wrote in the early 1990s and performed by his ensemble, the "band" who interpreted his work for 20 years, from 1992 through 2012; this recording is from a live performance in Hebbel Theater, Berlin in 1995, the opera following the life of his characters in parallel to universal issues we all face. ... Click to View


Rodrigues / Torres / Mira:
Setubal (Creative Sources)

A live performance at Casa da Cultura during the "Creative Sources Cycle" in 2020, capturing an extended acoustic improvisation between Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Nuno Torres on alto saxophone, and Miguel Mira on cello, using restrained approaches to deceptively detailed dialog of magnificent technique, as they sonically describe the Setúbal inlet near Lisbon. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith:
True Representations of Reality (Evil Clown)

The core duet of the Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) comprised of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, clarinets & flutes, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice is joined by pianist Eric Zinman performing inside and out of the piano, and also on synthesizer, drums & percussion, for three improvisations recorded live in the studio in Cambridge, MA in 2020. ... Click to View


PEK Solo / An Orchestra Of PEKS:
Some Truths Are Known [3 CDS] (Evil Clown)

David Peck, aka PEK, took advantage of the down time from his typically busy performance schedule with the Boston-area collective of bands centered around Leap of Faith to record a number of solo performances, using a variety of reed and wind instruments and the arsenal of unusual percussive instruments at his disposal, recording the 3 full CDs of new material presented in this set. ... Click to View


Slapp Happy:
Acnalbasac Noom [VINYL RSD] (Our Swimmer)

Acnalbasac Noom was Slapp Happy's second LP, recorded in 1973, and engineered by Kurt Grauner in Faust's legendary Wumme Studio using Faust as the Slapphappy house band; it was originally rejected by Virgin Records, who made the group re-record the album with different musicians as Casablanca Moon, though through time Acnalbasac is still the definitive and preferred edition. ... Click to View


Paul Lovens / Florian Stoffner:
Tetratne (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Captured live in Ljubljana during the 2019 "Sound Disobedience Festival", European Free Improv legendary drummer Paul Lovens co-composed this work with Swiss guitarist Florian Stoffner, "Tetra" referring to structures of 4, as in their 4-part improvisation with each player using all 4 limbs in a remarkable dialog of time, tone, technique, and nearly telepathic intention. ... Click to View


Albert Ayler:
Spirit Rejoice & Bells Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Revisiting two of the most essential and influential albums of saxophonist Albert Ayler's discography, both recorded in 1965 — Spirits Rejoice in a sextet and Bells in a quintet — both drawing from some of NY's finest players including Charles Tyler, Henry Grimes, Gary Peacock, Sunny Murray, Donald Ayler and Lewis Worrell, properly remastered to showcase Ayler's stunning conceptions in free jazz. ... Click to View


Tim Berne's Snakeoil:
The Deceptive 4 Live [2 CDs] (Intakt)

The long-established Snakeoil quartet led by New York saxophonist Tim Berne, with Matt Mitchell on piano, Oscar Noriega on bass and B-flat clarinet, and Ches Smith on drums & percussion, are heard live in three settings over two CDs — at Firehouse 12 in 2017; at IBEAM in New York in 2010,; and at Roulette in NY in 2009 — showing the band's evolution of expressive power. ... Click to View


Jackson / Baker / Kirshner:
So Glossy and So Thin [CASSETTE W/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

The second release for the Chicago trio of Keefe Jackson on tenor & sopranino saxophones, Jim Baker on piano & synthesizer, and Julian Kirshner on drums, following their 2016 album The Noisy Miner, are heard two performances a year apart at the Hungry Brain, each an extended exploration of remarkably compatible, creative and uniquely lyrical collective collaboration. ... Click to View


Pau Nasim (Lopez-Palacios / Serra):
Alusion (Creative Sources)

Taking their project name as a concatenation of their personal names, appropriate to the close improvisational bond shared by the Spanish drum and sax duo of Nasim Lopez-Palacios and Pau Torres Serra, who present a unique and idiosyncratic language on their instruments to create an engaging set of dialogs through energetically controlled yet never chaotic interaction. ... Click to View


J. Pavone String Ensemble:
Lost and Found [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Jessica Pavones String Ensemble with Pavone and Abby Swidler on violas, and Erica Dicker and Angela Morris on violins, are recorded live at Firehouse 12 in a set of Pavone compositions combining traditional notation and improvisation, with a focus on sustained collaborative playing and the application of ideas exploring the healing potential of sonic vibrations. ... Click to View


J. Pavone String Ensemble:
Lost and Found [CD] (Astral Spirits)

Jessica Pavones String Ensemble with Pavone and Abby Swidler on violas, and Erica Dicker and Angela Morris on violins, are recorded live at Firehouse 12 in a set of Pavone compositions combining traditional notation and improvisation, with a focus on sustained collaborative playing and the application of ideas exploring the healing potential of sonic vibrations. ... Click to View


Powerdove:
Bitter Banquet (fo'c'sle)

Keyboardist Annie Lewandowski (London Improvisers Orchestra, Fred Frith, Samech) composed this song cycle about ancient Greek figures in collaboration with David Yearsley, Theresa Wong and Russell Greenberg, poetic pieces contrasting traditional use of instruments with subtle experimental approaches in a unique and fascinating set of compositional strategies. ... Click to View


Lijiang Quintet:
Crossing A River By Rope (fo'c'sle)

A rare and exuberant exchange of sonic discourse between Chinese and American improvisers recorded in the Yunnan Province of China at the Lijiang Studio artist residency, in a uniquely voiced quintet with Theresa Wong on cello & voice, Lao Dan on saxophone & bamboo instruments, John McCowen on clarinet & recorder, Li Xing on electric & acoustic guitars, and Deng Boyu on percussion & found objects. ... Click to View


Horace Tapscott / The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra / Great Vocie of UGMAA:
Live At Lacma, 1998 [VINYL] (Dark Tree Records)

Formed in 1961 with the goal of preserving, developing and performing African-American music, pianist Horace Tapscott is heard in this well-recorded concert from 1998, his last public performance, at LACMA in Los Angeles with a 20 piece orchestra including sax, trombone, a 12 member chorus, three bassists, and 3 percussionists; a significant addition to Tapscott's catalog. ... Click to View


Brodbeck / Bohm:
Weak Ties (Creative Sources)

Working in the Elektronisches Studio, in Basel, Switzerland, the duo of electronic artist and guitarist Volker Böhm and drummer/percussionist Benjamin Brodbeck, also employing sonic objects of indeterminate source, create a fascinating set of 9 sonic compositions driven by rhythmic interaction, using space and focused recording techniques in superbly timed dialogs. ... Click to View


Gorlinsky / Sysoev / Muller:
Universal Vitamin (Creative Sources)

An extended improvisation for acoustic instrumentation and voice using unusual and extended techniques, from the Russian trio of Alexey Sysoev on piano, Vladimir Gorlinsky on guitar & voice, and Christian Müller on clarinet, recorded at the Cultural Centre DOM in Moscow in 2019, cycling patiently from quietly expressive sections to chamber-oriented brightly active moments. ... Click to View


Sarah Hennies :
Casts [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Percussionist and composer Nick Hennies presents four tracks featuring sine waves paired with speech, vibraphone, hi-hat and voice recorded over several years in Austin, TX and Ithaca, NY, contrasting electronics and percussion with the starkness of the human voice. ... Click to View


Cryingsnice (Eric Hamelin / Chris Dadge):
All Greased Up For Nothin' (Bug Incision Records)

Frequent collaborators, Canadian drummer and experimentalist Eric Hamelin joins Chris Dadge, who more typically performs as a drummer/percussionist, in a duo with Dadge on violin, as the two create wonderfully active environments of sound that follow conceptual paths embracing electroacoustic methodology through two pieces performed live in the studio. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith:
The Observed Present (Evil Clown)

The debut of this reconfigured Boston-area trio drawn from the Leap of Faith lineup, starting with the core duo of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, clarinets & flutes, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, with guest Eric Woods on synth and percussion, the trio using heavy percussion and electronics gear in a unique journey of extended freeform improvisation. ... Click to View


PEK Solo:
Schism (Evil Clown)

Approaching his solo work with new compositional strategies, multi-reedist and percussionist David Peck uses time and texture as the principal organizational elements in 9 pre-mixed recordings over which PEK was allowed more flexibility and freedom in instrumental choice during performance, using a vast collection of instruments in dramatic improvisations. ... Click to View


Robert Wyatt:
His Greatest Misses (Domino Record Co.)

Originally released in 2004 in Japan, this compilation covers songs from Soft Machine legend Robert Wyatt's solo career, from albums back to Rock Bottom through Cuckooland, sequenced non-chronologically reflecting the depth of interest, excitement & pathos of his remarkable career, one of rock's most unconventional and brilliant songwriters and singers. ... Click to View


Robert Wyatt:
His Greatest Misses [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (Domino Record Co.)

Originally released in 2004 in Japan, this compilation covers songs from Soft Machine legend Robert Wyatt's solo career, from albums back to Rock Bottom through Cuckooland, sequenced non-chronologically reflecting the depth of interest, excitement & pathos of his remarkable career, one of rock's most unconventional and brilliant songwriters and singers. ... Click to View



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The Squid's Ear
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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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reviews about releases
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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Birgit Ulher /
Franz Hautzinger:
Kleine Trompetenmusik
(Relative Pitch)



Fred Van Hove /
Peter Brotzmann:
Front To Front
[VINYL + DOWNLOAD]
(Dropa Disc)



Albert Ayler:
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Bells
Revisited
(ezz-thetics by
Hat Hut Records
Ltd)



Paul Lovens /
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Ltd)



Tatsuya Nakatani /
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Zach Rowden:
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Static Age Records
[CASSETTE w/
DOWNLOAD]
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Sylvie Courvoisier /
Drew Gress /
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So Thin
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DOWNLOAD]
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Tim Berne's Snakeoil:
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Robert Wyatt:
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