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With exceptionally quick spontaneity and astute anticipation, free improvising pianist Joel Futterman and drummer Steve Hirsh engage in a series of extended dialogs across two CDs of "Warp" & "Weft" in multiple parts, pushing each other in both technical and expressive interaction, weaving complex interplay with startling ease and creative intention.
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Label: Mahakala Music
Catalog ID: MAHA-021
Squidco Product Code: 31699
Format: 2 CDs
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded in September, 2021.
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• Show Bio for Joel Futterman
"Joel Futterman, Piano and Indian Flute
Determined to push the limits of the piano to techniques never heard in jazz, Joel began a 25-year regimen of practicing 8-10 hours a day. During this period, he developed a three-hand technique based on completely autonomous playing between the hands. With more than 70 recordings, he is considered one of the most innovative yet enigmatic new music pianists.
Known for his spirited, highly imaginative, and innovative piano technique, Joel Futterman is an internationally recognized veteran pioneer into the frontiers of spontaneous, improvised music. He is considered one of the foremost inventive and adventurous artists shaping the creative, progressive music scene today. Futterman continuously pushes the limits of the piano as he explores new musical horizons. He has performed across North America and Europe including at such noted music festivals as the Tampere Jazz Festival in Finland, the Vision Festival in New York, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the Guelph Festival in Canada. He has performed with such notable jazz innovators as Jimmy Lyons, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Paul Murphy, Joseph Jarman, Richard Davis, William Parker, Alvin Fielder, and Hal Russell; as well as Edward 'Kidd' Jordan, with whom he has had a highly productive association. For many years, Futterman has also played the Indian Wooden Flute.
Joel Futterman was born in Chicago, IL. He grew up and lived in Chicago until 1972. Joel had piano lessons from about age 9-11, then continued playing on his own, eventually studying theory and harmony with Alan Swain. Joel met Clarence (Gene) Shaw when he was 18 and studied with Clarence for two years. Clarence was an important influence at the time. One night Clarence invited Joel to his home for a party. He introduced Joel to Charles Mingus. Joel recalls that Mingus gripped his hand firmly and stared up at the ceiling.
Joel attended University of Illinois in Chicago obtaining a (B.S.). Herman Finer, professor of political science, was a profound influence and encouraged Joel to pursue his creative endeavors.
While Joel was in college, his mother passed away and he isolated himself and began practicing 12 to 16 hours a day. Practicing was the only comfort for him at this time.
Joel attended Northeastern University in Chicago and worked on an MS in Education. He was nine hours short of receiving the degree when he decided to leave Chicago. Joel did receive an MS in Education with an endorsement in Reading at Old Dominion University in 1975.
In 1972, Joel moved to Virginia, where he resides today, in a personal quest to develop his creative voice. His first album, CAFETERIA, was released in 1980 to considerable acclaim due to its originality. Since then, his recordings have included a number of jazz legends, such as Jimmy Lyons, Richard Davis, Hal Russell, William Parker and others. In 1994, photographer Michael Wilderman introduced Joel to Edward 'Kidd' Jordan, and since then Joel has enjoyed many rewarding musical collaborations with Kidd and drummer Alvin Fielder. Also, Joel Futterman has had a deep association with artist Ike Levin, founder of the Charles Lester Label."-Joel Futterman Website (www.joelfutterman.com/about.htm)
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• Show Bio for Steve Hirsh
Steve Hirsh: "About Me
I come from a non-musical family. But every week growing up, I'd get my allowance and go to the local record store to pick up the latest hit. At 10 years old, I started guitar lessons at a neighborhood community center. I wanted to learn Beatles tunes but instead found myself learning classical guitar. I wasn't into it and stopped after a year. Then in junior high, I had a band/orchestra class. I started off playing alto sax. But in the summer after my first year, I got braces on my teeth and my orthodontist told my mother that playing a reed instrument would be bad for my overbite. So in my second year, I started on drums because I figured it would be the easiest instrument to catch up on. The bug bit me then, and I would spend hours playing along to records on my snare drum.
I went to a specialized public high school in New York City that focused on math and science. They had no music classes, except for a single music appreciation class that dealt entirely with European classical music. There was one Black girl in my class (!). One day she asked the teacher why he didn't teach anything about jazz and Miles Davis and John Coltrane. That was the first time I heard those names. The teacher said something dismissive and moved on.
Somewhere around there I got my first drum set and was trying to figure out how to play it. One day in the library, I was thumbing through the record collection and came across Kind of Blue and Blue Trane. I remembered hearing Miles' and Trane's names and took the records home. I was astounded by what I heard, particularly drummer Philly Joe Jones on Blue Trane. I had no idea what or how he was playing and could hardly believe that there was only 1 drummer.
Over the next 10 or so years, I dove deeper and deeper into the music. I worked forwards and backwards - Bitches Brew-era Miles, and late John Coltrane, and Max and Bird and then everyone in between, and then back to Basie and Ellington and Papa Jo Jones. I was playing in rock and blues bands and saw jazz drumming as beyond my abilities. After my 2nd year of college, I told my parents that I wanted to transfer to Berklee College of Music. But I had no one to help me navigate that change and I was unable to do it myself. Eventually, I just quit college, moved to California, and started playing in bands. I wound up hanging out and then working at Keystone Korner. I saw everyone there - Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Rhasaan Roland Kirk, Stan Getz, Mary Lou Williamson, the house band with George Cables and Eddie Marshal, Billy Higgins, Woody Shaw, Elvin Jones. And I started trying to play the music. But eventually, I quit playing for a variety of reasons, including the inability to believe I could really ever play it well and authentically, and the need to get away from the drug scene (this was San Francisco in the mid-'70s). But I never stopped listening, and eventually went back to playing in rock and blues bands.
I quit playing again in the early 80s but then picked it back up 20 years later when I bought my son a drum set. I bought it for him, then took it over (I sat down behind it to check it out and didn't come out for a week.). I've been playing steadily since then. I played a lot of straight-ahead jazz gigs, a lot of dinner jazz. But I always had a taste for the more outside sounds, and for the last few years, that's exclusively what I've been playing.
I have led several improvising ensembles in the last few years, and have played most of the Twin Cities venues that are open to this music, including Khyber Pass Cafe, The Icehouse, Jazz Central Studios, The Cedar Cultural Center, and Grand Oak Opry. I started a regular series at the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, featuring my groups and other improvising ensembles. I also hosted a weekly open session there, where anyone could come and gain experience improvising with experienced players.
I've played with (among others) William Parker, Joel Futterman, Eri Yamamoto, Matthew Shipp, Ivo Perelman, Luke Stewart, Douglas Ewart, Babatunde Lea, George Cartwright, Donald Washington, Chad Fowler, Zoh Amba, Brad Holden, Dick Studer, Josh Granowski, Matt Trice, Kavyesh Kaviraj, and DeVon Russell Grey.
In the past year, with the isolation of the pandemic and the near-total loss of performance opportunities, I have become involved in several remote collaborations, with both old and new friends. There are a few of those on the Recordings page, if you're curious.
My latest releases are Ebb & Flow, with Joel Futterman and Chad Fowler, Notice That There, with Geirge Cartwright, Chad Fowler, Christopher Parker and Kelley Hurt, Warp & Weft, a collaboration with the extraordinary pianist Joel Futterman, Two Five None, a duo with Chad Fowler, and You Know When It's Time by Original Mind, all on Mahakala Music https://mahakalamusic.bandcamp.com/. There's more stuff coming - follow me on Bandcamp, follow Mahakala Music, and send me a note asking to be added to my email list.
I endorse Canopus drums and Bosphorus cymbals. Beautiful instruments I'm lucky to play.
Born and raised in New York City, I now make my home in the woods of Northern Minnesota."-Steve Hirsh Website (https://www.stevehirshdrums.com/steve-hirsh-drums-music-bio)
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^ Hide Bio for Steve Hirsh
1. Part 1 30:30
2. Part 2 16:58
3. Part 3 12:57
1. Part 1 27:11
2. Part 2 28:00
sample the album:
"The Joel Futterman Steve Hirsh Duet is dedicated to exploring new directions in the art of "in the moment" collectively improvised music. They combine skilled musicianship with a celebration of improvisational conversations that take the listener on musical journeys spanning the emotions and musical genres. Their shared goal is artistic freedom and devotion to the unexpected as they stretch and push the boundaries of tonality, rhythm, and harmony. They are determined to push the limits and redefine the genre of improvisational music. This is a tight improvisational unit whose hearts and ears are open to each other, and whose music is always fresh and new."-Mahakala Music"
"Neuroscientists, psychologists, philosophers, and modern Buddhist practitioners have all grappled with the concept of consciousness. On one hand, the science-oriented folk propose consciousness to be stuff that designates the 'me' inside a person vis-à-vis the world, whereas the more spiritual approach eschews a dualistic definition in favor of a universal or 'one' consciousness. If we take up the debate using improvised music as an example, specifically Warp & Weft by Joel Futterman and Steve Hirsh, the 'me' falls away leaving us with a non-dual document.
Futterman, whose back story includes participation in early years of Chicago's AACM before moving to Virginia, has had long partnerships with saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, Alvin Fielder and Kidd Jordan. The release of his Creation Series (NoBusiess Records, 2021) collected five volumes of his solo improvisations from 1980.
The nearly two hours of instant composing from Futterman's piano and Hirsch's drum kit were obviously produced by sentient beings but, just as less complex organisms such as trees (which many believe to have no consciousness) can cooperate to seek sunlight and nutrients, the duo creates and nurtures sound without the appearance of separate selves. Free improvisation requires thought, yet improvisation at the highest level requires no thought, in effect no 'me.' That can be said of the music of Cecil Taylor & Tony Oxley, Matthew Shipp & Ivo Perelman, and certainly Futterman and Hirsch.
The two musicians abandon accompaniment, and effectively perform as one. If there was thought involved or a preconceived plan, the music would fail. Like the finest improvisation, the creation is instantaneous with the most gentle pauses, and the massive thunderstorms. At times, Futterman's attack is like that of drummer Elvin Jones, and Hirsch exercises cymbals with the elegance of pianist Hank Jones. Certainly Futterman and Hirsh are separate individuals, but the music recorded here is a prime example of non-dualistic activity."-Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
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