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McAuley, Jim: The Ultimate Frog (Drip Audio)

Guitarist and string player Jim McAuley's "The Ultimate Frog" is a double album made up of duets with artists Leroy Jenkins, Nels Cline, Ken Filiano, and Alex Cline.

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product information:

UPC: 875531004069

Label: Drip Audio
Catalog ID: DA00406
Squidco Product Code: 10793

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2008
Country: Canada
Packaging: Digipack Double CD
Recoded by Scott FRaser at Architecture, Los Angeles, CA. Session dates: Leroy Jenkins-May 3, 2002; Ken Filian-march 28, 2006; Nels Cline-September 30, 2007; Alex Cline-April 22, 2007.


Jim McAuley-classical guitar, steel-string guitar, 12-string guitar, dobro, prepared marquette parlor guitar, marxophone

Nels Cline-classical guitar, steel-string guitar, high-strung dobro, cigar box slide guitar, prepared guitars

Leroy Jenks-violin, viola

Ken Filiano-bass, prepared bass

Alex Cline-drumset, percussion, gongs

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track listing:

CD 1:

1. Improvisation #12 4:51

2. Nika's Love Ballad 5:15

3. Improvisation #5 2:51

4. November Night 5:45

5. Improvisation #1 3:36

6. Escape Tones 1:18

7. A Ditty For NC 4:33

8. Improvisation #6 7:10

9. The Zone Of Avoidance 3:34

10. Froggy's Magic Twanger 4:11

11. Huddie's Riff 5:31

12. Il Porcellino 3:35

CD 2:

1. Jump Start 3:19

2. Improvisation #9 3:10

3. Bullfrogs And Fireflies 2:54

4. Successive Approximations 4:02

5. Improvisation #11 5:39

6. Five'll Get Ya' Ten 5:00

7. Work With Warp 3:36

8. No Snare! 5:24

9. Improvisation #10 3:32

10. Angie Moreli Truly Confesses 2:36

11. Okie Dokie 3:48

12. For Rod Poole 3:22
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Guitarists, &c.
Free Improvisation
Quintet Recordings
Instruments with Preparations
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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Jim McAuley's The Ultimate Frog is a two-CD collection of duets between the guitarist and four great musicians: Leroy Jenkins (violin, viola), Nels Cline (guitars), Ken Filiano (bass) and Alex Cline (drums/percussion). The result of these pairings is a diverse and richly textured set of music, which includes quick-witted open improvisations, freeform folk and blues tunes, aching ballads and earthy modal pieces. McAuley is one of those few musicians who are (as Ellington put it) genuinely "beyond category"; his playing is an intensely personal distillation of a huge range of influences--from fingerpicked blues to free jazz, not to mention Arabic oud music and Renaissance lute-song. The Ultimate Frog is a long-overdue collection of work from this too rarely documented master guitarist.

Jim McAuley was born in Kansas in 1946; much to the dismay of his parents, his musical talent showed early, and as a teen he turned his attention to playing acoustic blues guitar. Classical studies, folk guitar and jazz shortly entered the mix; in later years, he also took up kora, charango and oud. In the late 1960s he was a member of a folk-rock group, Mouse; under contract to Capitol Records, the band moved to Los Angeles, only to fall apart before even recording their first album. Stranded, McAuley spent a while as part of producer Don Costa's stable of studio musicians--he's present on albums by Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Eydie Gorme, among others--but the experience left him disenchanted, and it wasn't long till he embarked for Europe (first Paris, then Ibiza) for an extended sojourn, concentrating on just "getting next to [his] guitar". Returning to LA in the mid-1970s, he hooked up with the many fine players on the local avant-jazz scene--most crucially, the clarinettist John Carter, who was for a time his mentor. McAuley also connected with the post-Harry Partch microtonalists Erv Wilson, Ivor Darreg and Kraig Grady, an interest that much later bore fruit in the Acoustic Guitar Trio, a collaboration with Nels Cline and Rod Poole exploring just intonation, regular temperament and many other tuning-systems (often simultaneously!). He kept a low profile, supporting himself with gigging and teaching, though one other false start towards a recording career occurred in 1976, when he was signed to John Fahey's Takoma Records, then dropped when the label was sold to Chrysalis. In the 1990s he led a series of disparate groups for Cline's Alligator Lounge series--a constantly mutating project he dubbed "The Gongfarmers" (a gong farmer, if you really must know, is a medieval latrine cleaner). Despite this, McAuley's previous release under his own name, Gongfarmer 18 (Nine Winds), is actually a solo recording. His only other CD to date is the Acoustic Guitar Trio's self-titled debut, released on Derek Bailey's Incus label.

Aside from the leader himself, the musicians on The Ultimate Frog probably need little in the way of introduction. McAuley originally met the late, great Leroy Jenkins (arguably the most important violinist to emerge from the 1960s jazz avant-garde) when the latter's trio with Myra Melford and Joseph Jarman played LA in 2002. Their performances are the closest thing here to conventional free-improv duets. There's no precomposed material: they simply seized the moment and ran, producing some exceptionally searching and fast-moving exchanges. The other three players are key figures from the Los Angeles free jazz music scene, though Ken Filiano is currently based in New York, and nowadays Nels Cline splits his schedule between avant-jazz gigs and his work as a member of Wilco. Many of these tracks involve some loose premeditation or agreed-upon exploration of a specific texture, approach or lick (including some great blues hooks); there are even a few dots-on-paper tunes. What's apparent throughout all four sessions is McAuley's love of the sheer variety and depth of sound he and his partners can create--from the spellbound hush of "Bullfrogs and Fireflies" and "November Night" to the daft hullabaloo of "Froggie's Magic Twanger." The result is a fresh, often spellbinding collection of music that celebrates the improvised moment in all its temporary pleasures and perils."-Nate Dorward (Oct, 2008)

Artist Biographies:

"Ken Filiano performs throughout the world, playing and recording with leading artists in jazz, spontaneous improvisation, classical, world/ethnic, and interdisciplinary performance, fusing the rich traditions of the double bass with his own seemingly limitless inventiveness. Ken's solo bass CD, subvenire (NineWinds), received widespread critical praise. For this and numerous other recordings, Ken has been called a creative virtuoso, a master of technique ... a paradigm of that type of artist... who can play anything in any context and make it work, simply because he puts the music first and leaves peripheral considerations behind.

Ken composes for his quartet with Michael Attias, Tony Malaby, and Michael T.A. Thomspon; a collective with Attias and Tomas Ulrich; and for his decades-long collaborations with Steve Adams and Vinny Golia. His prolific output also includes performances and/or recordings with artists including Bonnie Barnett, Rob Blakeslee, Bobby Bradford, Taylor Ho Bynum, Roy Campbell, John Carter, Nels Cline, Alex Cline, Connie Crothers, Mark Dresser, Ted Dunbar, Marty Ehrlich, Giora Feidman, Bob Feldman, Eddie Gale, Georgian Chamber Orchestra, Dennis Gonzalez, Lou Grassi, Phil Haynes, Fred Hess, Jason Hwang, Joseph Jarman, Sheila Jordan (with the Aardvark Orchestra), Raul Juarena, Joe Labarbera, Joelle Leandre, Frank London, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Tina Marsh, Warne Marsh, Dom Minasi, Hafez Modirzadeh, Butch Morris, Barre Phillips, Don Preston, Herb Robertson, Bob Rodriguez, Roswell Rudd, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Ursel Schlicht, Paul Smoker, Chris Sullivan, Peeter Uuskyla, Fay Victor, Biggi Vinkeloe, Kenny Wessel, Andrea Wolper, Pablo Ziegler. With Tomas Ulrich, Elliott Sharp, and Carlos Zingaro, he is a member of T.E.C.K. String Quartet.

Ken has been a guest lecturer, performer, and workshop leader at institutions in the United States and Europe. He earned a MM from Rutgers University and is currently on faculty at Mansfield University."- All About Jazz

-Pi Recordings / All About Jazz (

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Other Releases With These Artists:
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