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The quartet of bassist Tom Blancarte and saxophonist/vocalist Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen (The Home of Easy Credit), Dan Peck on tuba (The Gate, also with Blancarte) and trumpeter Peter Evans, for an album inspired by the collaborative gameplay of the classic arcade game, Gauntlet.

Blancarte, Tom / Peter Evans / Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen / Dan Peck
The Gauntlet of Mehen

Blancarte, Tom / Peter Evans / Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen / Dan Peck: The Gauntlet of Mehen (Destiny Records)

Label: Destiny Records    
Released in: USA    

"A summit of New York master improvisors, who gathered together at Beardog Studios at the foot of the Texas Hill Country to create an album guaranteed to take its listeners on an amazing journey of improvised sword and sorcery musical madness.

The group was put together by Texan bassist Tom Blancarte at the request of his hometown friend and Destiny Records founder, Michael Shields. Picking carefully from his friends and peers in New York City, he chose three unique and uncompromising players with whom Tom has had collaborative projects in the past and present. Danish saxophonist and vocalist Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen is his wife and duo partner in the post-apocalyptic duo The Home of Easy Credit as well as the leader of the group Sweet Banditry, of which Tom is a member. Blancarte once co-led the duo Sparks with trumpeter Peter Evans, and has often featured as a member of his quartet, quintet and octets. Dan Peck is the leader of the tuba doom jazz trio The Gate, which also features Tom, and the two have also played together as members of Peter's Octet and the Sparks Orchestra. All four musicians share a common love for uncompromising creativity and expression, as well as each possessing a heavy contrarian streak.

True to his contrarian form, Tom used a conversation from years ago with Peter about how audiences want improvisors to have superpowers as a starting point for putting together the group. "Peter argued that the reality is that improvisors don't have superpowers and that you can't just put your favorite ones together and expect the music to be great. At the time, I hesitantly agreed. But now I wanted to test that argument, because I love the idea that improvisors have special abilities when they make music that aren't too dissimilar to those of a comic book hero or villain. At least, I would hope that the best improvisors have these abilities."

Inspired by the collaborative gameplay of the classic arcade game, Gauntlet, as well as his childhood interest in role-playing games, the idea behind the project was to make sure that no one musical identity would be subsumed by the whole, but be kept separate and unique. Similar to the way one would play a game like Dungeons & Dragons, each player takes on special roles and abilities when they pick up their instrument, and can then use the instruments to go on fantastic adventures together. Meticulously recorded by engineer George Shalda, the improvisations on the album are an exact record of the group's sonic adventures.

To further emphasize the sword and sorcery theme, Blancarte included a fragment of a short story he composed, written in the style of Texan author Robert E. Howard, best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian. The story fragment deals with the concept of game-play, presented as a concept that has existed for millennia. The word "Mehen", probably unfamiliar to most readers, is both the name for a lesser-known Egyptian snake-god and for an Ancient Egyptian board game, whose rules are at present little understood.

Rather than use some sort of ordinary abstract art for the album art, it was decided that a true comic book artist would best be able to bring the sword and sorcery theme to life. Portland-based comic book illustrator Lukas Ketner, best known for his work on the science-horror comic Witch Doctor, was enlisted to depict the musicians as the Warrior, Elf, Wizard and Valkyrie of the original Gauntlet, tying together the music and the short-story fragment to create a cohesive presentation.



A veteran of the DIY New York improvisation, jazz and new music scenes for the past decade, Texan bassist Tom Blancarte has held the low end in a wide variety of avant-garde bands such as the electro-acoustic jazz of the Peter Evans Quintet, the banjo-shred power trio Seabrook Power Plant, New Timbralist free jazz noise trio Totem, the duo Sparks with trumpet phenom Peter Evans, an eerie post-apocalyptic duo with wife Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen (The Home of Easy Credit), improv doom tuba trio The Gate and new Danish post-punk improv quartet Sweet Banditry. He has toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, playing venues that range from dingy squatted basements to international festivals. He lives in both New York City and Denmark with his wife and daughter.


Peter Evans has been a member of the New York musical community since 2003, when he moved to the city after graduating Oberlin Conservatory. Evans enjoys working in wide range of areas in modern music and has therefore been working to greatly broaden the expressive potential of his instrument.

Current ensembles include the Zebulon trio, the Peter Evans Quintet, the collaborative trio Pulverize the Sound (with Tim Dahl and Mike Pride), and Rocket Science, (with Sam Pluta, Craig Taborn and Evan Parker). Evans has been performing and recording solo trumpet music since 2003 and is widely recognized as a leading voice in that field.

He has been commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, the Donaueschingen Musiktage Festival, the Jerome Foundation's Emerging Artist Program and is a 2014 Artist-in-Residence at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY.

He has presented and/or performed his music at many major international festivals and has toured his own groups extensively in Europe, Canada and the United States. Evans also performs with both the International Contemporary Ensemble and the Wet Ink Ensemble. In 2011 Peter Evans founded his recording label More is More Records which has released several highly acclaimed albums, most recently the Quintet's "Destination: Void".2015 will see the release of new solo music and the debut recording of Pulverize the Sound.


Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen, a native of Sønderjylland, has led an uncompromising career that has taken her abroad to Amsterdam, Berlin and New York. She continues her relentless quest for brutal honesty and innovative artistic vision around the world, as well as in her native Sønderjylland. Utilizing her voice, flute and sometimes electronics in addition to her primary instrument, the saxophone, she is best known for her duo The Home of Easy Credit with her husband Tom Blancarte, her new post no-wave improv quartet Sweet Banditry, her introspective solo performances, as well as regular work with musicians such as Mike Pride, Tim Dahl, Brandon Seabrook, Michael Evans, Han-Earl Park and Weasel Walter. Recently, she started a record label, Marsken Records, whose purpose is to focus on avant garde music from Sønderjylland. She is also a member of JazzAls, the Sønderborg-based music collective led by bassist Niels Præstholm. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe, performing at a wide range of festivals and venues.


Dan Peck is a Philosopher of Tuba. Living in New York since 2005, he has absorbed the filth and genius of the City, and continues to develop and question his frequency on this vibrating planet. Dan is founder of Tubapede Records, which has released 3 records to date, and gore-jazz trio The Gate (with Tom Blancarte and Brian Osborne), which has released 4 albums and completed 3 national/international tours. He currently is side man and co-collaborator in a number of ensembles, including Earth Tongues (with Carlo Costa and Joe Moffett), Grandpa Musselman and His Syncopators, Ingrid Laubrock Quintet, Steve Lehman Octet, and Tony Malaby's TubaCello Quartet. "-Destiny Records

"Peter Evans is a trumpet player, and improvisor/composer based in New York City since 2003. Evans is part of a broad, hybridized scene of musical experimentation and his work cuts across a wide range of modern musical practices and traditions. Peter is committed to the simultaneously self-determining and collaborative nature of musical improvisation as a compositional tool, and works with an ever-expanding group of musicians and composers in the creation of new music. His primary groups as a leader are the Peter Evans Quintet and the Zebulon trio. In addition, Evans has been performing and recording solo trumpet music since 2002 and is widely recognized as a leading voice in the field, having released several recordings over the past decade. He is a member of the cooperative groups Pulverize the Sound (with Mike Pride and Tim Dahl) and Rocket Science (with Evan Parker, Craig Taborn and Sam Pluta) and is constantly experimenting and forming new configurations with like minded players. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Yarn/Wire, the Donaueschingen Musiktage Festival, the Jerome Foundation's Emerging Artist Program, and the Doris Duke Foundation for the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival. Evans has presented and/or performed his works at major festivals worldwide and tours his own groups extensively. He has worked with some of the leading figures in new music: John Zorn, Kassa Overall, Jim Black, Weasel Walter, Levy Lorenzo, Nate Wooley, Steve Schick, Mary Halvorson, Joe McPhee, George Lewis, and performs with both ICE and the Wet Ink Ensemble. He has been releasing recordings on his own label, More is More, since 2011."

-Peter Evans Website (

"Dan is a tubist currently living and working in New York City. Since his move there in 2005, he has been active as a soloist, improviser, and sideman in a wide variety of settings. Dan's current interests are in experimental music and improvisation, and he has performed at many of New York City's most respected venues for creative music including The Stone, Roulette, and Issue Project Room. Dan has collaborated with many New York artists, including Tony Malaby, Nate Wooley, Michael Attias, Ben Gerstein, Tom Rainey, Peter Evans, Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, and Matthew Welch. Recent projects include recordings with Tony Malaby's Novela (Clean Feed), Harris Eisenstadt's Canada Day Octet (482 Music), and Jeff Newell's New Trad Band. Dan will also be on a forthcoming Anthony Braxton release, featuring music from the Falling River Series in small ensembles from Wesleyan University.

Dan currently leads a trio comprised of himself, Tom Blancarte (bass) and Brian Osborne (percussion). The group plays a mix of freely improvised music and his compositions, some of which are influenced by music of the Doom Metal genre. Their debut LP, "Acid Soil", is out on the Heat Retention Records label. In March of 2011, the Trio completed a 9 day tour of the midwest/east coast.

Equally at home in more traditional jazz settings, Dan plays in the old-timey jazz band Grandpa Musselman and His Syncopators. The Syncopators appear frequently at high society events in and around New York City, and in 2007 took part in the Jazz at Aspen Festival, directed by bassist Christian McBride.

Dan also plays a lot of contemporary music. He has premiered solo tuba works at St. Bartholomew's Church, Merkin Hall, and The Stone. In 2009, Dan was featured as part of Kagel Nacht, a celebration of the music of composer Mauricio Kagel, in which he performed two of Kagel's solo works, Atem and Mirum. As an orchestral performer, Dan has played under great conductors such as James Levine and Herbert Blomstedt, and has worked personally with composers such as Helmut Lachenmann and Alvin Lucier. Dan is a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble, and has also worked with the American Composers Orchestra, Signal Ensemble, New York City Ballet, New World Symphony, and the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra. Dan recently recorded a DVD of Iannis Xenakis' chamber music for Mode Records, with the International Contemporary Ensemble and percussionist Steven Schick conducting.

Currently, Dan plays on the Broadway musical Chicago, and is adjunct-faculty at New Jersey City University."

-Dan Peck Website (

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Quartet Recordings
Peter Evans
New in Improvised Music
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Product Information:

UPC: 798576786021

Label: Destiny Records
Catalog ID: DR-0008
Squidco Product Code: 21156

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at Beardog Studio in Austin, Texas, by George Shalda.


Tom Blancarte-upright bass

Peter Evans-trumpet

Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen-alto saxophone, flute, vocals, electronics

Dan Peck-tuba, electronics

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Track Listing:

1. Use Magic To Kill Death 7:58

2. Remember, Don't Shoot Food! 3:26

3. Beware The Demons Which Shoot You 12:20

4. I've Not Seen Such Bravery! 6:38

5. Wizard All Your Powers Will Be Lost 7:50

6. Welcome To The Treasure Room 1:39

7. Sorcerers May Be Invisible 8:33

8. Let's See You Get Out Of Here 10:26

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