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Songs Our Mother Taught Us

Borbetomagus: Songs Our Mother Taught Us (Agaric)

Three performances from London and Glasgow from New York saxophonists Jim Sauter and Don Dietrich, and guitarist Donald Miller, playing through pedals and distortion devices in unique and irascible free improvisations.

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product information:

UPC: 663445118022

Label: Agaric
Catalog ID: Agaric 1995
Squidco Product Code: 9073

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 1999
Country: USA
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded on April 18th and 21st, 1999 at the 13th Note, Glasgow and The Spitz, London by Tim Fletcher.


Jim Sauter-saxophones

Don Dietrich-saxophones

Donald Miller-guitar

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Artist Biographies:

Multi-reedist Jim Sauter was born July 23, 1953 in Nyack, NY. He currently lives in Sparkill, NY. He is a primary member of Borbetomagus.

-Squidco 9/21/2022

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"Don Dietrich is a saxophonist and founding member of New York City based improvisational group, Borbetomagus. Recently, he has become involved with the noise/free jazz "supergroup" The New Monuments (with C. Spencer Yeh and Ben Hall)."

-Wikipedia (

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"Donald Miller was born on 7 May 1958 in Washington, DC, and raised in suburban Maryland. At age 13, he began formal guitar lessons. At 18, he moved to New York City, where he was educated at Columbia University's College and the School of Visual Arts, receiving a BFA from the latter in 1982. He remained in The City for a quarter century.

Miller entered the NYC New Music scene in 1978, already possessing a strong background in the avant-garde. His first regular band was the now cult-status group Sick Dick & the Volkswagens, which featured infamous critic/crooner Lester Bangs as an auxiliary member. In February 1979, Miller met and first played with saxophonists Jim Sauter and Don Dietrich, giving immediate birth to Borbetomagus.

From 1984-99, Miller also worked closely with free jazz drummer William Hooker, in both duo and larger band formats. In this milieu, Miller met saxist Blaise Siwula, with whom he has worked in duo and trios with drummers Mike Evans, Jeff Arnal and Matt Hannafin, and the late synth guru Doug Walker.

In August 2001, Miller and his wife moved to New Orleans, four weeks ahead of the September 11 attack on NYC, and into a house 90+% unscathed by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There he formed The Death Posture with fellow guitarist Rob Cambre and Butoh dancer Vanessa Skantze in early 2002. This ensemble performed over two dozen butoh actions, later including dancer Alex Haverfield, in the Gulf Coast area, mostly to a stunned New Orleans, until late 2004 when Skantze and Haverfield took themselves and the name (with Miller's blessing) to Seattle. Miller and Cambre have continued to perform in solo and ensemble lineups, and gave two notable reunion performances with Vanessa in 2006." (

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track listing:

1. Aftershock 11:08

2. Songs Our Mother Taught Us 34:35

3. After Aftershock 7:45
descriptions, reviews, &c.

"The work of upstate New York noise-jazz trio Borbetomagus is frequently described in terms of overwhelming power and aggression. In a live context, that's absolutely the dominant impression one is likely to get. On record, though, it's possible to have some control over the volume, and thus to listen closely and carefully and discern real technique at work, not to mention a subtlety that's not really surprising, given that saxophonists Jim Sauter and Don Dietrich, and guitarist Donald Miller, have been at this game for three decades. They're not neophytes still impressed by their own ability to make a loud noise; they're sound artists whose collective improvisations have a unique beauty.

The three performances from London and Glasgow captured on this disc have no real reference points in even the free-est of jazz; rather, they sound like some huge machine sanding away at itself in an attempt to break free and lumber down the highway toward an uncertain destiny. The three men play through so many pedals and distortion devices that it's entirely impossible to discern which saxophonist is making which noise, and sometimes impossible to tell whether it's a saxophone or a guitar one is hearing. But even as each man blows or strums or otherwise plays his guts out, seemingly entranced, space always remains for the other two to be clearly heard, commenting and amplifying (in every sense of that word) and turning what could be a storm into a genuine three-way creative interaction. Borbetomagus are unique in the world, and this is as good a document of what they do as anything else in their catalog."-Phil Freeman, All Music

Get additional information at All Music
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Trio Recordings

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