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Alder, Jason / Piotr Michalowski: Contradictions (Creative Sources)

Dialogs on the lowest of reed instruments from the Ann Arbor, Michigan duo of Jason Alder and Piotr Michalowski, using Leblanc paperclip contrabass clarinets and Selmer rosewood contrabass and contra-alto clarinets, as they apply diverse approaches to avant improvisation of deep interaction, from active grumblings to beautiful tonal stretches.

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product information:

UPC: 5609063406023

Label: Creative Sources
Catalog ID: cs602
Squidco Product Code: 27611

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Portugal
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Entrophy Studios, in Redford, Michigan, on August 1st 2017, by Jeff Meier and Mike Khourey.


Jason Alder-contra alto, contrabass clarinet

Piotr Michalowski-contra alto clarinet, contrabass clarinet

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Artist Biographies:

"Jason Alder is a low clarinet specialist and holds degrees in clarinet performance (Michigan State University- US), bass clarinet performance (Conservatorium van Amsterdam- NL), creative improvisation (Artez Conservatorium- NL), as well as post-graduate study in the application of the advanced rhythmic principles of South Indian Karnatic music to contemporary Western classical and jazz music (Contemporary Music and Improvisation through Non-Western Techniques). He is currently conducting PhD research on the sonic possibilities on the contrabass clarinet (Royal Northern College of Music- UK). He is well-established as a performer of contemporary music and frequently works with composers to develop and premiere new works either as a soloist, with his flute-clarinet Shadanga Duo, the Four New Brothers Bass Clarinet Quartet, or in a variety of other formations. As well as composed music, Jason regularly performs internationally as an improviser, electroacoustic musician, and in world music and jazz bands. He is often found performing, lecturing, or on panel discussion at festivals around the world, including the International ClarinetFests, European Clarinet Festivals, Istanbul Woodwind Festival, American Single Reed Summit, Netherlands Gaudeamus New Music Festival, Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, Havana Festival of Contemporary Music, and Leeds International Festival of Artistic Innovation. He is also sought after as a recording engineer for many classical and jazz musicians around Europe. Originally from metro-Detroit, Jason has lived in Europe since 2006 and is an endorsing Artist for Selmer clarinets, D'Addario reeds, Behn mouthpieces, and Silverstein ligatures."

-Aural Terrains (

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"Piotr Michalowski grew up in Poland and moved to the United States in 1968 to earn his master's degree and Ph.D. at Yale University. After postgraduate research at Harvard and Penn, he took his first job at UCLA.

He'd been an avid jazz fan since he was a teenager -- he swore off rock 'n' roll after seeing the Jazz on a Summer's Day concert film -- but his tastes leaned more toward the old school, New Orleans-style than the new avant-garde.

In Los Angeles, Michalowski made friends with a record-store clerk who turned him onto some further-out sounds, including L.A. players the clerk also booked at the storied Century City Playhouse. There, Michalowski checked out gigs by adventurous improvisers, like John Carter, Nels Cline, and Golia, the last of whom inspired him to start playing clarinet.

"It was a fantastic scene," he says.

After a stint teaching in Philadelphia during which he didn't really play, Michalowski landed in Ann Arbor in the early '80s to work at the University of Michigan, where he continued to teach until just last year.

He took up music again at the urging of a friend and was soon playing traditional jazz, swing, and standards on alto and tenor sax, performing with David Swain's II-V-I Orchestra and jams with friends. He enjoyed the tunes, but it didn't feel right.

"I was playing 'Body and Soul' at some art place, and I just thought, 'It's totally ridiculous for me to play "Body and Soul."' I have in my head Coleman Hawkins and all these classic performers. It's almost sacrilegious for me to do it. While I love listening to that music, playing it was absurd. You could say playing as an amateur is absurd anyway, but I love doing it. That was just so crazy. I decided I was just making an ass of myself, and I just couldn't really justify it."

So, in the '90s, he turned back to his love of improvisation and found some like-minded, younger players at the University of Michigan and its Creative Arts Orchestra, who he started sitting in with. He collaborated regularly with James Ilgenfritz, Sarah Weaver, and "a whole generation" of musicians until they eventually left town to pursue their music.

Another longstanding collaborator for years was Detroit violinist Mike Khoury, with whom Michalowski has released a half-dozen or so short-run CDs. He's also continued to play with Ilgenfritz when the two are in the same city. In March, the two played as an impromptu trio with U-M music professor Stephen Rush during an Ilgenfritz show at Kerrytown Concert House, and earlier this month, Michalowski and Relyea, a mezzo-soprano vocalist, joined the bassist in Steve Swell's band for a New York performance.

Through Kerrytown and Detroit's free improvisation scene, Michalowski has made connections around the country that have developed into mini-tours with professional musicians and one-off shows in other cities when traveling for work.

He recalls one notable house show in Berkley, Calif., wiith Golia and Jon Raskin of the Rova Saxophone Quartet all playing sopraninos. "It was advertised as a very squeaky evening," he says.

When pianist Thollem McDonas was recruiting musicians to perform with at Kerrytown last summer, he asked Michalowski and Ann Arbor cellist Abigail Alwin to join him. McDonas recorded the session, which is now posted to Bandcamp as part of a 15-album series produced while touring."-Christopher Porter

-Ann Arbor District Library (

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track listing:

1. Two Selmer Contra-Altos 5:15

2. Paperclip Contrabass And Selmer Contra-Alto 1 2:28

3. Selmer Contra-Alto And Contrabass 7:26

4. Two Paperclip Contrabasses 6:12

5. Selmer Contrabass And Contra-Alto 5:01

6. Paperclip Contrabass And Selmer Contra-Alto 2 5:15

7. Selmer Contra-Alto And Paperclip Contrabass 1 6:29

8. Selmer Contra-Alto And Paperclip Contrabass 2 6:48

9. Paperclip And Selmer Contrabasses 9:33
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Jason Alder and Piotr Michalowski explore the subterranean sonic depths of the clarinet family with five contra-alto and contrabass clarinets between the two of them."-Creative Sources

Related Categories of Interest:

Creative Sources
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Duo Recordings
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players

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