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Polyorchard (Pence / Jackson / Menestres / Ruccia / Phaneuf): Sommian (Out & Gone Records)

The North Carolina improvising collective Polyorchard is heard in this exceptional studio album, configured as a quintet with Michael Thomas Jackson on clarinet, David Menestres on double bass, Crowmeat Bob Pence on bass clarinet, Charles Phaneuf on clarinet, and Dan Ruccia on viola, for the 6 lettered "Sommian" suite of collective and far-ranging experimental improv.

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product information:

Label: Out & Gone Records
Catalog ID: OG011
Squidco Product Code: 27252

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded February 24th, 2018, by David Menestres.


Michael Thomas Jackson-clarinet

David Menestres-double bass

Crowmeat Bob Pence-bass clarinet

Charles Phaneuf-clarinet

Dan Ruccia-viola

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Artist Biographies:

"Michael Thomas Jackson has been creating and recording music since 1985. He has been involved in fully notated composition, free improvisation, avant rock, concrete and electronic music, performance art and everything in between. He has worked with tape, found objects, analogue synthesizers, prepared guitars, various percussion, all manner of sound processing, electronic feedback systems, turntables, voice and extended techniques on the clarinet. Michael has played as, in, or with many fine projects and people including Eugene Chadbourne, Rompecabeza, Spool Ensemble, Viktimized Karcass, Alien Planetscapes, Choptsicks, Cobra Clutch, Cephalic Index, The George Steeltoe Ensemble, Brian Osborne, Chris Phinney, Martin Klapper, Rafael Flores, Isolation, Flutter, Jerry's Finger, Truncheonette, Projexorcism, Skoweyajeed, Katsu Itakura, Carl Howard, Bruce Eisenbeil, Quien Es, Thomas Dimuzio, Dave Fox, David Prescott, Pat Lawrence, Ian Davis, Scotty Irving, New Loft, Zan Hoffman, Hal McGee and O.N.E. Michael is currently active performing, recording and releasing music through the Primecuts Recordings imprint, raising a daughter and being poor."

-Heat Retention Records (

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"David Menestres is a bassist, composer, and writer currently living in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. David is the founder/leader of the Polyorchard ensemble and is the host and producer of Tone Science, a weekly two-hour radio show on since 2010."

-David Menestres Website (

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"Upon graduating with a degree in cinema production in the 90's, Crowmeat Bob swiftly went to work at the Record and Tape Exchange and started playing bass and guitar with friends (primarily guitar guru John Aguero) in his parents' basement and in a friend's garage. No gigs were played during those years; they were a freaky little neurotic island in the strip-mall wasteland of northern Virginia. The prevailing aesthetic was some kind of heavy splatterjazz-noise-math-rock-free-improv, with 'frop breaks spent listening intently to all kinds of bidness like electric Miles, Black Sabbath, Messiaen, Sonic Youth, Marc Ribot, Cecil Taylor, Bartok, Last Exit, The Stooges, you name it. He eventually made the move to North Carolina in like '96, where he resides to this day, and picked up sax and bass clarinet while continuing with guitar.

He's played with about a billion bands, either as a composer or sideman, and been gigging on about a weekly basis since settling in the Research Triangle in 2000. Becoming fairly well known as part of the small "free improv" scene there, he was fortunate enough to get to play with a lot of great touring musicians, some of whom you probably revere. And mixing with the indie rockers provided ample opportunity to add sax to various rock'n'roll bands. His playing can be heard on local labels like Merge, Sorry State, and Paradise of Bachelors. Now that he is almost a halfway-decent player and has had a lot of experience writing music for many different kinds of ensembles, he has finally put out a record as a leader: Judge Schreber's Avian Choir is the name he gives to a recurring project that takes slightly different forms, in this case a large string ensemble with a heavy rhythm section."

-Bob Pence 1/25/2023

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"Charles Phaneuf is Raleigh Little Theatre's Executive Director. He's a Raleigh native who returned to the area in 2012. He was previously Managing Director of Joe's Movement Emporium, a multidisciplinary performing arts center located outside of Washington, DC, and Associate Managing Director at Shakespeare Theatre Company during the expansion into the Harman Center for the Arts. Charles is a founding member of the Capital Fringe Festival and Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, both in Washington. He is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumni, a board member of the Friends of the Gregg Museum at NCSU, and serves on the Dix Park Master Plan Advisory Committee."

-Raleigh Little Theatre (

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"Dan Ruccia (b. 1982) is a Durham, NC, based composer. He writes music that exists at the intersection of different styles, forms, and genres, particularly free jazz and punk in all of its manifestations. His music has been performed across the United States and Europe by Eighth Blackbird, The Bad Plus, Wet Ink, the Juventas New Music Ensemble, Ensemble Soli Fan Tutti, the Wavensemble, and [dnme]. He recently completed his Ph.D. at Duke University where he studied with Stephen Jaffe, Scott Lindroth, and Allen Anderson (University of North Carolina). Dan also has a B.A. in music from Princeton University, having worked with Dan Trueman, Dmitri Tymoczko, and Steven Mackey.

Additionally, Dan is a violist and improviser, playing with [dnme] (which he directed in 2009 and 2010), Microcephalic Superintendent, and other groups around the Triangle. He also is a DJ at WXDU, playing a freeform mix of rock, jazz, classical, and everything else, and writes album reviews for Dusted Magazine. He is also on Twitter."

-Dan Ruccia Website (

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track listing:

1. Sommian A 5:10

2. Sommian B 8:35

3. Sommian C 9:44

4. Sommian D 8:19

5. Sommian E 6:57

6. Sommian F 6:19

sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Polyorchard is a collection of musicians with a strong desire not only to explore improvised and free music themselves but also - and this is important- to encourage others. Their aim is to explore different musical areas. They may form small ensembles or large collectives and since its inception in late 2012, the ensemble has performed spontaneous compositions, works by members of the group, and works by a variety of composers including Alan Courtis, Terry Riley, Alvin Curran, Eva-Maria Houben, Jacques Demierre, Magnus Granberg, Jackson Mac Low, John Zorn, and many more. Polyorchard has collaborated with a diverse array of artists including Japanese noise legend Merzbow and ensemBle baBel from Switzerland. Polyorchard has also implemented a program to commission new works specifically for improvising ensembles and has so far premiered works by Thomas Dempster, Andrew Weathers, D. Edward Davis, Will Redman, with more new pieces to come in the next few years. Polyorchard has performed on bills alongside Tashi Dorji, Dougie Bowne, Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley, and many more."


The second CD Sommian - also out now- see a change of line up and a quintet. This time it is Michael Thomas Jackson on clarinet, David Menestres - double bass, Crowmeat Bob Pence - bass clarinet, Charles Phaneuf on clarinet and Dan Ruccia on viola. Track one opens with intent, the bass string bending the line up for the sax and viola singing out over the top, the sound is deep, heavy, thrusting and evocative. The bass clarinet voice is heard under many sections and is the mighty shoulders upon which much of the sound rests across the track. The contrasts with the clarinet and viola lines adds to the wonder of the track as it develops. Track 2 is spacey, stutt notes adding atmosphere and short, sharp points of reference, which the bass clarinet picks and develops the middle tone into a riff of its own, over which the bass enters and bows and bends its way into a cavernous depth of sound. This is a track enjoyable because of the interactions going on, which are busy, vital and emphatic, each instrument seeming to want more of a say - and the sound voids are amazing. Track 3 is interaction extreme, complete with bells and whistles which builds, builds again and develops the sounds, each musician picking up those laid before them and combining the key notes to create diversions, intricacies and changes - outstanding. Track 5 is a gentler affair, the percussive, spacey nature contrasting with the blast of before, but wait, this grows, it develops, it builds, it follows a rhythm from the second third, the rhythm firmly set by bass and around this everything builds and the sound wall is created - until it ebbs again, the dynamism here is extraordinary. Track 6 is different again yet still with that group entity which pervades this CD - the musicians listen, they interact, they entwine and unravel again and again.

The CDs show how musicians who listen and want to explore can develop huge sounds - or small, delicate intricacies depending on what takes the moment. Both CDs have a dialect of their own but they are linked by that universal language - the desire to explore, challenge and make good free flowing music with spontaneity and intrigue. There is a sense of a tunnel into which the sounds are poured and what emerges the other end could be anything - or everything."-Sammy Stein

Get additional information at The Free Jazz Collective
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Quartet Recordings

Search for other titles on the label:
Out & Gone Records.

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