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Keith Rowe / Mark Wastell:
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Performing at The Printing House, in Dublin, Ireland, the duo of Keith Rowe on guitar & electronics and Mark Wastell on amplified textures & electronics are heard in their final set of the evening, louder and more gestural, taking the audience on a long musically referential journey of theme, statement and variations, seemingly traditional yet using unique strategies. ... Click to View


The Residents :
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Jaap Blonk's Retirement Overdue (w/ Petruccelli / Stadhouders / Rosaly):
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Antonin Artaud (Jaap Blonk):
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Vocal performer & musician Jaap Blonk presents a rendering of French dramatist, poet and theatre director Antonin Artaud's "Pour en Finir avec le Jugement de Dieu" (To Have Done With the Judgment of God), a work shelved by the French Radio in 1948 without broadcast as 'too scatological, political, anti-religious, random, and cacophonous through xylophonic and percussive sounds'. ... Click to View


Eric Brochard / Fabrice Favriou:
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Improvised and heavy forms of experimental rock from the French duo of piccol bassist Eric Brochard and drummer Fabrice Favriou, their music dramatic, ritualistic and urgent as they reference Maya Deren and mythological experience, their music hypnotically mesmerizing and sonically rich, slowly whirling dervishes in five varying sequences that growl and transfix. ... Click to View


What Happens In A Year (SInton / Neufeld / Merega):
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The 1st release of NY baritone saxophonist & bass clarinetist Josh Sinton's FiP label (Form is Possibility) is the debut of the "What Happens in a Year" trio with Todd Neufeld on electric guitar and Giacomo Merega on electric bass, an album of free collective improvisation fueled by a patiently ethereal and authoritative ethic through subtle dialog of tone, texture and pulse. ... Click to View


Dan Clucas / Jeb Bishop / Damon Smith / Matt Crane:
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Three quartet improvisations and six duo combinations between Dan Clucas on cornet, Jeb Bishop on trombone, Damon Smith on double bass, and Matt Crane on drums, recording in the studio in Rhode Island, 2018, the various permutations of each player elucidating the full group interactions through focused and captivating investigations of instrumental combinations. ... Click to View


Otomo Yoshihide / Chris Pitsiokos:
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Performing live at the Tempo Reale Festival in Florence, Italy in 2018, the duo of Japanese improviser Otomo Yoshihide on turntables & guitars and NY saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos fascinate with seven free dialogs, from extreme techniques of fragmented sound to jazz-oriented reference, a well-matched pair for both splintering collision and accomplished statement. ... Click to View


Iannis Xenakis:
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The Thing (Gustafsson / McPhee / Haker Flaten / Nilssen-Love):
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Albert Ayler Quartet With Don Cherry:
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Essential radio and live recordings from saxophonist Albert Ayler's European tour in 1964 with Don Cherry on cornet, Gary Peacock on double bass and Sunny Murray on drums, a quintessential grouping for Ayler's compositions, here in outstanding renditions of classic works including "Spirits", "Ghosts", "Vibrations", "Mothers", "Childrens", plus Don Cherry's "Infant Happiness". ... Click to View


Joel Futterman :
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Each of the three parts of NY pianist Joel Futterman's "Intervals" is an unedited first take, a referendum on 40 years of playing and evolving his powers at free jazz that embraces tradition and future, alway engaging his listeners through fully formed figures, phrase and motifs, a great combination of familiar jazz elements and imaginative free invention. ... Click to View


Frode Gjerstad / Fred Lonberg Holm / Steve Swell / William Parker:
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After on a tour through upstate New York State with Chicago cellist and electronic artist Fred Lonberg-Holm, saxophonist Frode Gjerstad headed to New York City for a planned trio recording which evolved into this informed quartet with Steve Swell on trombone and William Parker on bass, tuba, cornet & flutes, an outstanding example of Transatlanic collective improvisation. ... Click to View


Cooper-Moore & Stephen Gauci:
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Gadt / Osborne / Zakrocki / Olak:
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The third volume in this Polish free improvising series, starting with the collaboration of violinist Patryk Zakrocki and guitarist Marcin Olak, varying the additional players as they explore chamber-oriented free improvisation, here with the impressive vocal improvisation of Anna Gadt and cellist Annemie Osborne, as they rip apart the calendar in 14 monthly machinations. ... Click to View


Przemyslaw Chmiel Quartet:
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Led by Polish multi-reedist and composer Przemyslaw Chmiel and his quartet of Mateusz Gramburg on piano, Piotr Narajowski on double bass, and Michał Szeligowski on drums, this is their debut album, presenting a sophisticated set of structured compositions that allow for great spontaneity and lyricism, a strong start for this expressive young band. ... Click to View


Sun Ra And His Solar-Myth Arkestra:
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Originally issued on the BYG label as a 2 volume set, these albums present a variety of tracks from various undocumented sessions in New York and Philadelphia in the 1960s, with similar personnel in the makeup of the Arkestra during this time, here fully remastered and presented as a 2-CD set including a bonus track correcting an original mastering problem; essential Ra! ... Click to View


David Myers Lee:
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Using electronic and digital tools similar to those that fuel his Arcane Device project, New York sound artist David Lee Myers presents an accessibly engaging set of compositions using modular electronics, feedback matrices, guitar textures, voices, and frogs in 11 polyrhythmic adventures; quirky yet non-chaotic, sublime experimental works of tone and texture. ... Click to View


Julius Gabriel:
Geminga (Creative Sources)

Using the natural resonance of the chapel of Oficinas do Convento, in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal, saxophonist Julius Gabriel recorded these ten diverse solo improvisations, performing on soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, applying unusual and extended techniques to his playing in a mixture of technical prowess and implicit wit & melodicism. ... Click to View


Icepick (Nate Wooley / Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten / Chris Corsano):
Hellraiser [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

The 3rd album from the improvising trio of Nate Wooley on trumpet, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass, and Chris Corsano on drums, is a live recording at the 2018 Experimental Sound Studio's Option Series, a smoldering session of collective improvisation that builds tension through impressive rhythmic texture and releases it in cathartic and passionate passages. ... Click to View


Das Rad (Archer / Robinson / Dinsdale):
Adios Al Futuro (Discus)

The 2nd release from the UK instrumental rock band Das Rad of Nick Robinson on guitars, keyboards & electronics, Martin Archer on woodwind, keyboards, synth bass & electronics, and Steve Dinsdale on drums, keyboards & electronics, expand their sound and referenes as they tug on the heartstrings of prog, krautrock and other advanced rock forms with modern and mellotron-fueled orchestration. ... Click to View


Kaze (Fujii / Tamura / Pruvost / Orins) w/ Ikue Mori:
Sand Storm (Libra/ Circum-Disc)

The cooperative quartet Kaze of Satoko Fujii on piano, Peter Orins on drums, Christian Pruvost on trumpet, Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, joins with elextroacoustic improviser Ikue Mori for seven exploratory pieces recorded in the studio after a one-week tour in Austria, France, and Russia, their enthusiasm for their extraordinarily unique group sound clearly evident. ... Click to View


Gato Libre (Tamura / Fjuii / Kaneko):
Koneko (Libra)

The 8th album from Gato Libre with compositions from trumpeter Natsuki Tamura in a trio with Yasuko Kaneko on trombone and pianist Satoko Fujii here on accordion, Koneko translating to "Kitten", as Tamura explores 8 new cats from strays to shop cats through deceptively simple pieces of melodic appeal of warm color, tone & texture; absolutely charming. ... Click to View


Phil Wachsmann :
Writing In Water (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

UK-based violinist Phillip Wachsmann, an essential player bringing contemporary approaches of indeterminacy, conceptualism and electroacoustics to the early community of improvisers and experimentalists, in a reissue of his 1984 Bead Records album, presenting his astute and sophisticated live solo performance for violin and electronics at the Actual Festival in July 1984, London. ... Click to View


Francesco Gregoretti :
Solid Layers, Deafening Shapes (Toxo Records)

A solo percussion album from Francesco Gregoretti, employing traditional instruments and unusual object to create unique audio environment that use predictable rhythmic elements against capricious approaches, giving his playing a personal style fueled by resonance and natural feedback; an album that balances chaotic and structured environments in riveting ways. ... Click to View


Musicworks:
#137 Fall 2020 [MAGAZINE + CD] (Musicworks)

Fall 2020 issue of Canada's finest new music magazine, focusing on guitars--hollow, heavy, bowed, cracked, pedalled, flung, trusty companions & feedback demons; Plus articles on Casey Koyczan, Susan Alcorn, Amy Brandon, Aidan Baker, Eliza Kavtion, C. Diab, Markus Lake, Catherine Debard, Cloud Chamber, &c; and an 11-track CD with music from the aforementioned. ... Click to View


Milford Graves / Don Pullen:
The Complete Yale Concert, 1966 (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Originally issued in two volumes on their own SRP Records in 1966 & 67 as In Concert At Yale University and Nommo, the duo of drummer/percussionist Milford Graves and pianist Don Pullen are heard live in in this excitingly energetic and revelatory concert at Yale University, redefining the roles of their instruments during the most exploratory period of free jazz. ... Click to View


Schlippenbach Quartet:
Three Nails Left (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Remastered and with the original cover, the expanded Schlippenbach Trio of pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach, saxophonist Evan Parker on soprano & tenor, drummer/percussionist Paul Lovens, and German double bassist Peter Kowald, a stellar group captured in two incredibly inventive concerts at Third New Jazz Festival Moers and at Quartier Latin in 1974 & 1975. ... Click to View


Peter Kowald Quintet:
Peter Kowald Quintet (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

First ever CD reissue of the only band under bassist Peter Kowald's own name, remastered; originally released by FMP in 1972, this is exemplary European Free Jazz from one of the orignal innovators in a quartet with Peter Kowald on tuba, bass, & alphorn, Gunter Christmann and Paul Rutherford on trombones, Peter van der Locht on alto saxophone, and Paul Lovens on drums. ... Click to View


Evan Parker / Agusti Fernandez:
Tempranillo (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Reissuing this astonishing 1995 studio recording, capturing the first encounter between two legendary free jazz performers--UK saxophonist Evan Parker on tenor and soprano saxophones and pianist Augustí Fernández--in an 8-part dialog of mercurial speed balanced with moments of passionate introspection, resissued with new mastering, restoring this essential meeting. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Arcado String Trio:
Deep Resonance (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Saxophonist Ivo Perelman declares that he "metamorphosed into a string instrument" himself while playing with the dynamic string trio drawn of NY Downtown luminaries--cellist Hank Roberts, violinist Mark Feldman and bassist Mark Dresser--blending technical mastery with profound creative impulse as the quartet weaves a tapestry of free jazz and instant composition. ... Click to View



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  Sound in the Balance  

Amplify 2003: Elemental


By Nirav Soni (photo credit: Nirav Soni) 2003-03-25
:  () Why it has taken so long for me to write this review:

1. Naming

The very first problem for the sort of music that was played at the AMPLIFY festival is what to call it. Many have proposed names to encompass the range of approaches that musicians as diverse as Toshimaru Nakamura, Jason Lescalleet and Tim Barnes take to their instruments, but as of now, none really satisfy me. The one that I hear most often is "Electro-Acoustic Improv"; it is likely the most commonly used because of the discussion list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Electroacoustic/) of the same name. Jon Abbey, founder of Erstwhile Records at one time called what he releases "dangerous improv." He now prefers to use "balanced improv" to describe his curatorial decisions. Electroacoustic-improv doesn't apply to everything that it covers; during this festival the first set was entirely acoustic, with the musicians forgoing all electronics, even amplification. The acronym "EAI" also refers to the organization Electronic Arts Intermix, who are a group of people devoted to preserving the legacy of video and multimedia art. I'm tired of confusing the two. "Balanced improv" makes a little more sense to me about the means of producing of this music, and more about what happens to the space.

Maybe one could call this "room improv. " In his essay, "Towards an Ethic of Improvisation" (found in Treatise Handbook, London: Edition Peters, 1971) Cornelius Cardew says, "it is impossible to record with any fidelity a kind of music that is actually derived in some sense from the room in which it is taking place- it's shape, acoustical properties, even the view from the windows.....The natural context provides a score which the players are unconsciously interpreting in their playing."

When I read this quote, I understood why it seemed to me like the set that Greg Kelley and Bhob Rainey ( collectively comprising the band nmperign) played with Le Quan Ninh sounded like it could have been composed. The form that I heard in the playing was not that of a pre-determined score, but a conforming,RWD, TK an adaptation of personal style to circumstance, in this case the venue Tonic, on a frosty winter evening, with a very respectful audience. That one could detect this form within the music speaks volumes about the maturity of the players, and their immense discipline, focus and concentration

2. Profundity:

Amplify 2003: Elemental

Wednesday, Feb: 6th (Diapason Gallery)
Tim Barnes/Okkyung Lee/Toshio Kajiwara
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tetuzi Akiyama/Ben Watson

Thursday: Feb 7th (Tonic):
Lê Quan Ninh/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey
Günter Müller/Keith Rowe
Tim Barnes/I-Sound
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura

Friday: Feb 8th (Tonic):
Keith Rowe/ Lê Quan Ninh
Günter Müller/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tim Barnes/Tetuzi Akiyama
Günter Müller/Lê Quan Ninh

Saturday: Feb. 9th (Engine 27):
Günter Müller /Tetuzi Akiyama
Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey/Jason Lescalleet
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura
On the Tuesday before the festival, Keith Rowe held a discussion at Columbia. Rowe introduced the talk with an excerpt from a work by Jean Cassanea de Mondonville, a French composer from the baroque period. After playing the music on a small stereo that betrayed the size of the music, he asked whether or not electronic music can approach the level of profundity that the piece by Mondonville did. During the discussion, I was the only person who mentioned religion (being a non-musician, I have a tendency to talk about other thing s in the way of my talking about music). It seemed to me that profundity is not a quality that music (or for that matter, anything, really) can possess; one instead has a relationship that is profound, with a piece of music, a painting, a cat, or a dish that only mom cooks just so.

Rowe mentioned Mark Rothko during the discussion, which got me to thinking about the relationship of the abstract and the profound. What strikes me upon reflection on all of the artwork I've come across by Rowe (which can be seen on a number of album covers, including his discs with AMM and on Erstwhile) is how so little of it is entirely abstract. His paintings certainly aren't, and one can easily look at his use of the radio as a way of distancing the listener from the sensual surface of the music. Rowe's radio brings the music towards the exterior, towards the social, but always in a tangential, distant, often fleeting way. He seems to be, both in his words and in his music, alluding to the ethical, to the engaged.


3. Performance

I was eagerly awaiting the Keith Rowe/Le Quan Ninh performance on the 8th after seeing such intense performances by both of them the night before. Upon reflection, it makes sense that the collaboration was less than harmonious. Where Rowe's sound-image recalls for me the moral and the conscientious, Ninh's style is very different. His performances were more about the erotics of the "surrounded bass drum". His playing is supremely graceful, precise, delicate, and extraordinarily sensual. One cannot help but reference the libidinal when you watch him rubbing his thumb across the skin of the drum.

It is entirely appropriate that it was Ninh who was touring with butoh dancer Yukiko Nakamura. Nakamura performed onstage during the during the first and last sets of the Tonic nights. I would comment about her role during the first show, with Ninh, Kelley and Rainey, but she spent the vas t majority very low to the stage, and thus obscured to me by a friend's head. I do recall that somewhere around a third of the way into the set, she dramatically rolled onto the floor, whereupon I completely lost sight of her. During the Müller/Ninh performance, she was completely visible. She went through a series of very, very slow movements, which made it seem like she was crumpling to the ground in slow motion. It was, however, bristling with tension and intensity, entirely in key with the tenor of the music.

I am generally critical of visual accompaniments to music, and, possibly because of that, my favorite person to watch play during the festival was Tim Barnes. Barnes is the perfect foil to Ninh. Where the latter is classical grace and fluidity, eminently measured and controlled, the former's gestures are more intently muscular, more about the grain of the kit; coarseness. Watching him slowly scrape the cymbals across his kit was pure pleasure, it had the same visual rhythm as a turnstile.

4.Günter Müller

I do not understand how this man is completely capable of making almost every situation I've heard him play in work. I've been worrying about how to write about what he does for weeks, and I give up now.


Instead of attempting to describe the music played, I ask you to accept this list of adjectives that I will append to the bottom of this review, in correspondence with the performance they apply to:

Lê Quan Ninh/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey - open
Günter Müller/Keith Rowe- earthy
Tim Barnes/I-Sound- split
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura- still

Keith Rowe/ Lê Quan Ninh- discordant
Günter Müller/Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey- near
Toshimaru Nakamura/Tim Barnes/Tetuzi Akiyama- spare
Günter Müller/Lê Quan Ninh- thick

Günter Müller /Tetuzi Akiyama- long
Greg Kelley/Bhob Rainey/Jason Lescalleet- wide
Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura- de e p

Relevant links:
http://www.l-m-c.org.uk/texts/rowe.html
http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poem1751.html



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