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The trio of Kyle Bruckmann, setting his oboe aside for minimoog; Scott Rosenberg on sax and winds; and Michael Zerang on percussion, in an unusual and unpredictable release of electroacoustic improvisation that amuses as much as it impresses.

Bruckmann / Rosenberg / Zerang
Six Synaptics

Bruckmann / Rosenberg / Zerang: Six Synaptics (Ertia Creations / Barely Auditable Records )

Label: Ertia Creations / Barely Auditable Records     
Released in: USA    

"Sooner or later it had to happen: peripatetic woodwind player Scott Rosenberg would have to interact with real-time electronics. Part and parcel of his leave-taking from Chicago to New York, the reedman hooked up with two of the Second City's plethora of improvisers for this short -- about 441/2 minutes -- but provocative CD.

The fact that Rosenberg, who has played free jazz with his own quartet, composed hybrid chamber music, duetted with Anthony Braxton and been featured in large ensembles has taken up the challenge facing many 21st Century musicians isn't surprising as much as who is wielding the keyboard, dials and wires.

Contemporary classical musician Kyle Bruckmann, who manipulates the minimoog and live processing here, is better known as an oboist. In that capacity he has worked with the likes of cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and multi-keyboardist Jim Baker, with Austrian microtonalists Polwechsel, and performed works by John Cage, George Crumb and Salvatore Sciarrino as part of the Ensemble Noamnesia. Perhaps because the circuit board isn't his main axe, he brings a singular conception and discerning execution to his contributions here.

Third man on board is veteran percussionist Michael Zerang, who since the late 1970s has participated in more off-the wall Chicago sounds than anyone. His playing partners have ranged from fellow percussionist Hamid Drake and Lonberg-Holm to saxophonists John Butcher, Ken Vandermark and Fred Anderson. No narrow drumhead, he has also won awards for his compositions for theatre and dance productions. Many times, in fact, it's Zerang on hand percussion or echoing cymbals who sets the scene for these collaborations that are then advanced and shaped by Rosenberg on some combination of sopranino, alto or tenor saxophones, contrabass clarinet or flute plus Bruckmann's implements.

On "Shards (Strewn)" for instance, the distinctive flick of sticks onto a drum head is quickly joined by gritty flute wheezes and crinkling static and whistles from the moog. The percussionist continues pumping out jagged rhythms as the synthesizer first produces calliope-type sounds than what appears to be the cry of a maddened bull. Tongue slaps and screams from inside one of the saxophones rouses the minimoog to elephant trumpeting which are then met by reed kisses. Eventually the sound field is split between whirling electronic drones and split-second flute spits.

Unselected cymbals take centrestage and continue in the aural spotlight on "Moonling," with Zerang's reverberating brass orbs supplying the mallet-driven rhythm. Ringing bells in the midst of a slowly intensifying electronic buzz, and later beating his toms, Zerang's sounds encourage Rosenberg to unleash a juggernaut of Energy Music from his saxes, using his mouthpiece alone to yelp like a puppy and squeak like a mouse, while exploding into a spray of multiphonics. Zerang's percussion comments on the proceedings take the form of random clicks and rim clinks on "Sparks: Spewn." Here also the live processing legerdemain asserts itself. After clearing the field with plunger tones, Bruckmann takes Rosenberg's rolling split tone chirps and speedy flurries of nasal squeaks to double and triple the hullabaloo, having the machine's echoing resonance create new human-sounding notes and tones.

Avoiding the excesses of so-called free jazz, New music and overbearing electronica, the three also manage to strengthen the humanity of their presentation despite the minimoog and processing. It takes a flesh-and-blood person to program and manipulates these manufactured beasts, after all. Bruckmann especially makes sure that the sound doesn't become excessively mechanical and vapid. As the reedist's swan song to the Windy City, Six Synaptics leaves plenty of sounds around to be further explored by him and his Chi Town cohorts who remain there."-Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly

"Michael Zerang was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is a first-generation American of Assyrian decent. He has been a professional musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms.

Michael has collaborated with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in collaboration with Redmoon Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000.

As a percussionist and composer, Michael has over eighty titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally to 34 countries since 1981, and works with and ever-widening pool of collaborators.

Michael founded and was the artistic director of the Link's Hall Performance Series in Chicago from 1985-1989 where he produced over 300 concerts of jazz, traditional ethnic folk music, electronic music, and other forms of forward thinking music. Michael has been a Board Member of Links Hall Since 1989. He continued to produce concerts at Cafe Urbus Orbis from 1994-1996, and at his own space, The Candlestick Maker in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, from 2001 - 2005.

Michael has taught as a guest artist at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in performance technique, sound design, and sound/music as it relates to puppetry; rhythmic analysis for dancers at The Dance Center of Columbia College, Northwestern University, and MoMing Dance and Arts Center; courses in Composer/Choreographer Collaborations at Northwestern University; music to children at The Jane Adams Hull House.

Michael currently tours and holds workshops in improvisational music, and teaches private lessons in rhythmic analysis, music composition, and percussion technique.

-Michael Zerang Website (

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Free Improvisation
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz

Search for other titles on the Ertia Creations / Barely Auditable Records label.

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Product Information:

Label: Ertia Creations / Barely Auditable Records
Catalog ID: ECCD02 / BAR 333
Squidco Product Code: 20028

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2002
Country: USA
Packaging: Hand Printed Cardboard gatefold
Recorded at Ess, in Chicago, illenois on May 6th, 2001 by Pete Wenger.


Kyle Bruckmann-live processing

Scott Rosenberg-alto saxophone

Michael Zerang-percussion

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Track Listing:

1. Gristle-Glisten 7:50

2. Knistern; Prasseln 8:17

3. Hronir 4:57

4. Sparks: Spewn 6:56

5. Shards (Strewn) 8:09

6. Moondling 8:26

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