The Squid's Ear Magazine

Armaroli, Sergio / Steve Piccolo / Elliott Sharp: Blue In Mind (Leo Records)

An unusual blend of jazz tradition, spoken word and soundscape, presenting mostly as a jazz album with spoken narration from Steve Piccolo (Lounge Lizards) guiding the album with abstract comments that interject with Sergio Armaroli's virtuoso vibe playing, Elliot Sharp adding both acoustic sax elements and inventive sonic environments underpinning many moments; conceptually fascinating.

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Sergio Armaroli-vibraphone

Steve Piccolo-vocals

Elliott Sharp-guitar, soprano saxophone, computer

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UPC: 5024792092024

Label: Leo Records
Catalog ID: CD LR 920
Squidco Product Code: 31673

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: UK
Packaging: Digipack
Recording at "Il Pollaio", Ronco Biellese, in Biella, Italy, on October 30th, and November 1st, 2019, by Piergiorgio Miotto.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"This, Sergio Armaroli's fourth CD, partners him with British vocalist/narrator Steve Piccolo and American guitarist-saxist Elliott Sharp, who also tosses in some computer effects. The music, as one would expect from any Leo Records release, is certainly strange, but despite its completely improvised quality it also has form and substance.


Indeed, in the midst of One, we hear a snippet of Charlie Parker's Now's the Time, which then gets shuffled around and woven into the fabric of what they are doing. Piccolo's mostly-spoken interjections put me in mind, a bit, of the late Ken Nordine's "word jazz," which he perfected into an art form in the late 1950s and kept on doing until his death at age 98. "What is the benefit of thinking outside the box?" Piccolo poses in track 5. "Hello, I'm sorry I can't talk with you right now; I'm inside a box. Yes, you might say it's an experiment!...What, you say that you're inside a box? Well, that changes things, doesn't it?" Sometimes, yes, the music is abrasive, as in As I Was Saying where the computerized sounds predominate and tend to grate on one, but these moments don't last very long, and in a sense they force you to pay attention to what you're listening to.

Once in a while, as at the outset of track 6, the duo engages in some genuinely rhythmic playing, but such moments are rare. Most of the time it borders on the ambient, but whatever the situation it keeps you focused because no two tracks are alike. "NO bed! NO breakfast. NOTHING!" Piccolo complains in B&B, several times in fact, while Sharp alternates between his guitar and his computer. (As one of our local sports talk show hosts here in Ohio often says, "I've got my coffee, I've got my computer, now all I need is you!") Maybe Piccolo is also influenced a bit by Tom Waits.

Interestingly, Armaroli not only does not dominate this CD, he is sometimes absent from certain tracks-or, if he is present, it is only playing a note or two and letting them resonate on the vibes, not playing much beyond that. His two guests are the dominant players on this disc, and that is an unusual gesture from an established musician in any field. Yes, when he chooses to he does indeed come to the fore, as on Too Beautiful, but he doesn't do that with regularity.

As I say, then, although it is certainly a bizarre CD it is also a fascinating one. Well worth the listening experience!"-Lynn René Bayley, Art Music Lounge

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Artist Biographies

"Sergio Armaroli is a composer, percussionist, vibraphonist, teacher and total artist. His actions resonate through various artistic and musical fields, that of jazz being, perhaps, his most practised. He declares himself to be a painter, concrete percussionist, fragmentary poet and sound artist as well as founding his work "within the language of jazz and improvisation" as an "extension of the concept of art"."

-Sergio Armaroli Website (

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"Steve Piccolo (USA, lives and works in Milan, Italy). After studying at Bard College and New York University, he began his career in the 1970s playing bass in jazz groups and doing sound/performance in New York art spaces. In 1979 he started the Lounge Lizards with the Lurie brothers, a project which continued for about five years.

Active since the mid-1970s in music, theater, performance art, sound installations, video and film soundtracks. His activities as a musician, composer, artist, curator and teacher have become too numerous, frequent and varied to list them all here. He has exhibited/performed at the Kitchen, Franklin Furnace, Environ, Squat Theater, PASS, La Mama, Issue Project Room, The Stone (all in NYC, from 1979 to 2010), Zona Gallery Florence (1982), Galleria Peccolo Livorno (1982, 2006), Documenta 8 Kassel (1987), La Rada Locarno (1989, 2004), Japanese Institute of Culture Rome (2003), MAMCO Geneva (2003), Palazzo delle Papesse Siena (2003, 2005, 2007), Base Gallery Florence (2004), FRAC Bretagne (2004, 2014), Triennale Milan (2004-05-07-09), Villa Croce Genoa (2005, 2012), Berlin Jazz Festival (1981 and 2005), Technical Breakdown Copenhagen (2005-06), Swiss Cultural Center Milan (2005), Venice Art Biennale (with WPS1, 2005, and with performances in Belgian and Greek pavilions, 2015), Sant'Arcangelo Festival (2005), Itinerario Festival Cesena (2005, 2007, 2014), Galleria Mazzoli Modena (2006), Turchin Center for the Arts Boone NC (2006, with residency), Trinity College Wales (2006), Venice Music Biennial (2006), ArtBasel Miami (2006), Kettle's Yard Cambridge (2006), Babel Festival Bellinzona (2006), Moscow Biennial (2007), MiArt (2007), Swiss Cultural Institute Rome (2007), Spazio Mudima Milan (2007), SoundRes Lecce (2007), Experimenta Arts Festival Alberobello (2007), Performa New York (2007), Istanbul Biennial (2007), Body Process Arts Festival Istanbul (2007), Art Shakes Politics Messina (2007), Spazio Oberdan Milan (2008), Venice Film Festival (2008), Plektrum Festival Tallinn (2008), Venice Architecture Biennial (2008), GAM (now MAGA) Museum Gallarate (2008), City of Bergamo public art project (2008), Casino Luxembourg (2009), Metropolitan Museum New York (2009), City of Piacenza public art project (2009), Neon Bologna (2009, 2010), Parco d'Arte Vivente Turin (2010), Galleria Continua San Gimignano (2010), Loop Festival Barcelona (2010), Novara Jazz Festival (2010), (un)defined festival Merano (2010), Grrr Jamming Squeak Rotterdam (2011), TeatroStudio Scandicci (2011), group show I Miss My Enemies (collateral event Venice Art Biennial 2011), Festival of Imperial Gardens St. Petersburg Russia (2011) Isola Art Center Milan (exhibitions and local activism since 2002), Tirana Art Center (2011), Taller Seite Medellin (2011), Milano Film Festival (2011), Evento Bordeaux (2011), Auditorium Parco della Musica Rome (2012), Contemporary Locus Bergamo (2012), Festival della Filosofia, Modena (2012), MAAXI Rome (2014), Manifesta 10 St. Petersburg (2014), Vienna Secession (2014), Expo Milano (2015), Italian Cultural Institute Bratislava (2015), National Gallery of Arts Tirana, ONUFRI Prize (2016), Vienna Kunsthall (sounds for Nathalie Du Pasquier, 2016), Innsbruck International (with LF Nagler, 2016), Palazzo Reale Milan (VR project in exhibition by A. Pomodoro, with Oliver Pavicevic). Many of these projects were done in ongoing collaboration with Japanese musician/sound artist Gak Sato. Piccolo was sound curator at ArtVerona in 2008 and for the exhibition "Club 21" during Frieze 2010 in London, and curator of the project Chinatown Temporary Art Museum for's participation at InContemporanea Milan in 2008. His collaborations on art video/performance/installation soundtracks include works with Adrian Paci, Luca Pancrazzi (including sound art group DE-ABC with Gak Sato), A Constructed World, Giancarlo Norese, Alessandro Mendini, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Gabriele Di Matteo, Marc Vincent Kalinka, Marzia Migliora, VedovaMazzei and many others. He has published many records (see discography on this website). He has taught art courses at Accademia Carrara Bergamo (2002-2014), NABA Milan (2005-13), and Politecnico di Milano (Piacenza campus). His writings have been published in many international journals, magazines and books, including 4 years of a monthly column for the magazine InSound and curating of sound art pages at the Undo.Net website. Steve was one of the active members of Isola Art Center in Milan (2001-2013), and is currently part of the magazine-collective E IL TOPO (since 2009). Projects for 2017 include a workshop at Galleria Nazionale Rome and a performance at Museo Vincenzo Vela (Ticino). He has founded and curates, together with Sergio Armaroli, a space for sound art and poetry in Milan, ERRATUM, and he is a founding member of the cultural association Città Sonora."

-Steve Piccolo Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Elliott Sharp is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, and performer.

A central figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City for over 30 years, Elliott Sharp has released over eighty-five recordings ranging from orchestral music to blues, jazz, noise, no wave rock, and techno music. He leads the projects Carbon and Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics, and Terraplane and has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction.

His collaborators have included Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt; pop singer Debbie Harry; Ensemble Modern; Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Kronos String Quartet; Ensemble Resonanz; cello innovator Frances Marie Uitti; blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Pops Staples; pipa virtuoso Min-Xiao Feng; jazz greats Jack deJohnette, Oliver Lake, and Sonny Sharrock; multimedia artists Christian Marclay and Pierre Huyghe; and Bachir Attar, leader of the Master Musicians Of Jajouka.

Sharp is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2014 Fellow at Parson's Center for Transformative Media. He received the 2015 Berlin Prize in Musical Composition from the American Academy in Berlin. He has composed scores for feature films and documentaries; created sound-design for interstitials on The Sundance Channel, MTV and Bravo networks; and has presented numerous sound installations in art galleries and museums. He is the subject of a new documentary "Doing The Don't" by filmmaker Bert Shapiro."-Elliott Sharp

-Elliott Sharp website (

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Track Listing:

1. Abstract1 | Wasting Days 6:20

2. Mining Operation 1:17

3. Don't Worry 0:59

4. As I Was Saying 2:17

5. Abstract2 | the Box Man 4:17

6. The Most Common Barrier 1:33

7. B&B 3:03

8. Be Reasonable 2:18

9. The Oral Tradition 3:04

10. Too Beautiful 11:17

11. Abstract3 | Wish I Knew 4:23

12. Disaster Ruins Everything 2 1:51

13. Erasing Things 1:53

14. Abandoned Village 1:34

15. Blue in Mind 11:09

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Spoken Word
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Trio Recordings
Leo Records
New in Improvised Music

Search for other titles on the label:
Leo Records.

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