The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

En Corps (Eve Risser / Benjamin Duboc / Edward Perraud): Generation (Dark Tree Records)

The 2nd album from En Corps, the improvising trio of Eve Risser on piano, Benjamin Duboc on double bass, and Edward Perraud on drums, was recorded live at Artacts 16 festival in St Johann, Austria in 2016, performing two building works--"Des Corps" and "Des Ames" (The Bodies, The Souls)--which evolve from intricate quiet interplay into rich harmonic interaction. ... Click to View


Anemone (John Butcher / Peter Evans / Frederic Blondy / Clayton Thomas / Paul Lovens): A Wing Dissolved in Light [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

A brilliant quintet brought together for the Tampere Jazz Happening, in Finland in 2013, with NY trumpeter Peter Evans, UK saxophonist John Butcher, Australian bassist Clayton Thomas, UK drummer/percussionist Paul Lovens, and French pianist Frederic Blondy for an phenomenal extended improvisation presented in parts: "Une Aile Dissoute Dans La Lumiere". ... Click to View


Klaus Treuheit / Lou Grassi: Port of Call [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

An informed set of creative iprovisations recorded in the studio and drawing clearly from the traditional jazz idiom between German pianist Klaus Treuheit and NY drummer Lou Grassi, performing original 4-part compositions including the "Misterioso", "L'espace Sonore", and "Lamend # Pb". ... Click to View


Paul Rutherford / Sabu Toyozumi: The Conscience [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

The 1st in a series of unreleased concerts from the 90s recorded in Japan by Chap-Chap Records, acquired by NoBusiness to bring them to light; this duo album brings the late and influential UK free improvising trombonist Paul Rutherford together with drummer Sabu Toyozumi for five far-ranging dialogs of both reflective and enthusiastical energetic playing. ... Click to View


Itaru Oki / Nobuyoshi Ino / Choi Sun Bae: Kami Fusen [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

An exciting and uniquely orchestrated free jazz trio concert recorded live at Cafe Amores, Hofu, Yamaguchi in Japan in 1996 from the trio of Itaru Oki on trumpet and bamboo flute, Nobuyoshi Ino on bass, and Choi Sun Bae on trumpet, Ino providing often stunningly quick bass lines over which the otherwise rhythm-less band are afforded great flexibility. ... Click to View


Itaru Oki / Nobuyoshi Ino / Choi Sun Bae: Kami Fusen (NoBusiness)

An exciting and uniquely orchestrated free jazz trio concert recorded live at Cafe Amores, Hofu, Yamaguchi in Japan in 1996 from the trio of Itaru Oki on trumpet and bamboo flute, Nobuyoshi Ino on bass, and Choi Sun Bae on trumpet, Ino providing often stunningly quick bass lines over which the otherwise rhythm-less band are afforded great flexibility. ... Click to View


Spunk: Still Eating Ginger Bread For Breakfast (Rune Grammofon)

Norway's unconventional improvising quartet SPUNK with Maja S. K. Ratkje, Hild Sofie Tafjord, Lene Grenager and Kristin Andersen are heard live at Nasjonal Jazzscene in Oslo, Norway in 2015, capturing these two sets of uniquely unexpected and jaw-dropping recordings of a band on the cutting edge of avant improvisation. ... Click to View


Whit Dickey / Mat Maneri / Matthew Shipp: Vessel In Orbit (Aum Fidelity)

While working with Matthew Shipp on an Ivo Perelman album, drummer Whit Dickey and pianist Shipp agreed to record an album of their own and enlisted violist Mat Maneri to record this album of deep space-themed improvisations, collective improvisation of heavy propulsion that bursts from impassioned exchange to convoluted clusters of sound. ... Click to View


Daunik Lazro / Joelle Leandre / George Lewis: Enfances 8 Janv. 1984 (Fou Records)

A live recording at 28 rue Dunois, in Paris, France in 1984 from the trio of Daunik Lazro on alto sax, Joelle Leandre on double bass and voice, and George Lewis on trombone, a trans-Atlantic enounter of creative inventiveness and innovative vision, a great document of three persistent masters captured early in their incredible careers. ... Click to View


Evan Parker / John Edwards / Steve Noble : PEN (Dropa Disc)

Bringing together three leaders from the UK free jazz scene, the new trio of Evan Parker on tenor sax, Steve Noble on drums & percussion, and John Edwards on double bass present a masterful album drawing from the roots of free improvisation in playing that rises and recedes like a tidal force, captured live at the Oorstof concert series in Antwerp. ... Click to View


Ballister: Low Level Stink [VINYL & DVD] (Dropa Disc)

One of the super-groups of free improvisation, colliding elements of jazz, rock, ea-improv and beyond, the Ballister trio of Chicago stalwarts Dave Rempis (sax) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello) are captured live at the Oorstof concert series in De Studio, Antwerp, presenting the concert in a limited, combined vinyl LP and DVD release. ... Click to View


Evan Parker / John Russel / Ian Brighton / Phillip Wachsmann / Marcio Mattos / Trevor Taylor: Live From Cafe Oto (FMR)

London's Cafe Oto organized a reunion of String Thing, guitarist Ian Brighton's project with violinist Phillip Wachsmann, bassist Marcio Mattos, & Trevor Taylor on percussion and electronics, adding guitarist John Russell and saxophonist Evan Parker, here capturing an impressive night of improv, and Brighton's first public appearance in nearly 40 years. ... Click to View


Fred Lonberg-Holm / Adam Golebiewski: Relephant (Bocian)

Chicago free improvising cellist and electronicist Fred Lonberg-Holm and Poznan, Germany drummer, having worked together in larger group settings, met as a duo at MDK Dragon Club in Ponzan to record these four far-ranging improvisations of unusual textures, rhythms and sonic interactions. ... Click to View


Antoine Chessex / Apartment House / Jerome Noetinger: "Plastic Concrete" / "Accumulation" (Bocian)

Two long-form compositions combining acoustic and electronic orchestration by Antoine Chessex, convoluted works that take unusual twists and turns from spirited interaction to beautiful sonic passages, performed at London's Cafe Oto by an ensemble including Dominic Lash, Andrew Sparling, Jerome Noetinger, &c. ... Click to View


Miles Okazaki: Trickster (Pi Recordings)

Intricate interplay in modern jazz from guitarist Miles Okazaki in a quartet with fellow New Yorkers Craig Taborn on piano, Anthony Tidd on bass, and Sean Rickman on drums--Tidd and Rickman his compatriots in Steve Coleman and Five Elements--performing Okazaki's playfully complex and innovative compositions that drive some serious grooves. ... Click to View


The Necks: Unfold [VINYL 2 LPs] (Ideologic Organ)

Four side-long improvisations from the Australian trio of Chris Abrahams on piano, Tony Buck on drums, and Lloyd Swanton on bass, each side a masterpiece of slowly transpiring and evolving music, unhurriedly expanding each track to reveal tension and allure. ... Click to View


Archer / Clark / Grew / Hunter: Felicity's Ultimatum (Discus)

The 2nd release in a new series of small groups drawn from members of the Discus Music family, where the group meets, writes, rehearses and records in one single session, here developing ten compositions from all four players edited into a continuous sequence of structure and improvisation, embracing melody, texture and pure abstraction. ... Click to View


Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere: 02 (Discus)

An absolutely impressive album blending advanced/progressive rock forms with improvisation, starting from collective improvisation and layering in the studio to create a sophisticated psychedelic music, the second album from this ensemble that is headed by Martin Archer (reeds & keys), Chris Bywater (keys & synth), and Steve Dinsdale (drums & percussion). ... Click to View


Daniel Levin / Ingebrigt Haker Flaten / Chris Corsano: Spinning Jenny (Trost Records)

Three innovative improvisers, Daniel Levin on cello, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass, and Chris Corsano on drums, in a studio album of collective free playing that's traverses both ferocious and introspective aspects of their dialog with tremendous technical skill and wonderful creative strategies. ... Click to View


Jon Irabagon / John Hegre / Nils Are Dronen: Axis [VINYL] (Rune Grammofon)

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon continues his trajectory in creative new jazz with the release of this trio album with drummer Nils Are Dronen and guitarist John Hegre, recorded live in Berlin at N.K., and in Fukuoka, Japan at New Combo, each track an extended improvisation balancing beautiful tonal work with informed and aggressive interaction. ... Click to View


Evan Parker / Andrea Centazzo : Duets 71977 (Ictus)

Bringing to light an excellent concert from 1977 in San Marcello, Portugal, and studio recordings at Ictus Studio, Pistoia, Italy from the same year, between UK free improvising master saxophonist Evan Parker on soprano & tenor, and Italian percussionist Andrea Centazzo on drums, percussion, and electronics. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Joe Morris / Gerald Cleaver: The Art Of The Improv Trio Volume 6 (Leo)

The 6th and final volume of tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman's ambitious series exploring modern free improvisation in a variety of trio setting with differing players and configurations, here with Joe Morris on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums in an extended and masterful 2-part recording that runs the gamut of lyrical and burning free jazz. ... Click to View


Anthony Braxton : 3 Compositions Of New Jazz [VINYL] (Delmark)

Anthony Braxton's first album as a leader, recorded in 1968 with Braxton performing on sax, clarinet, flute, bagpipes, accordion, bells & snare, in the company of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and violinist Leroy Jenkins, each taking on a variety of instruments as well. ... Click to View


Gratkowski Quartet, Frank: Spectral Reflections (Leo)

A live recording in 2001 at Germany's The Loft from saxophonist & clarinetist Frank Gratkowski and his quartet with Wolter Wierbos on trombone, Dieter Manderscheid on bass, and Gerry Hemingway on drums, a superb example of the saxophonist's stature in the free improvising community, and the outstanding players he associates with. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer: Performs Songs From The Albums "Kraftwerk" And "Kraftwerk 2" [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (KARLRECORDS)

The 20th anniversary of director Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer ensemble, who have reinterpreted in surprising ways the music of a far-ranging and eclectic set of composers and performers, as they take on the innovative electronic rock band Kraftwerk in six interpretations from their first two albums. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer: Performs Songs From The Albums "Kraftwerk" And "Kraftwerk 2" (Zeitkratzer)

The 20th anniversary of director Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer ensemble, who have reinterpreted in surprising ways the music of a far-ranging and eclectic set of composers and performers, as they take on the innovative electronic rock band Kraftwerk in six interpretations from their first two albums. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani : Nakatani Gong Orchestra [CASSETTE] (TAIGA)

Excerpts from drummer/percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani's 2012 Taiga release on cassette, presenting pieces from his Gong Orchestra project, where Nakatani takes his large collection of gongs on the road and teaches members of the community how to bow, strike, and follow his conduction, creating an amazing ritual of sound. ... Click to View


Jean-Marc Foussat / Jean-Luc Petit: ...D'Ou Vient La Lumiere ! (Fou Records)

A wonderfully eccentric, complex and surprising set of extended improvisations between French clarinetist & saxophonist Jean-Luc Petit and synth and electronics artist Jean-Marc Foussat, ranging from intensive and detailed interactions to beautiful soundscapes, as the two show great compatibility and intent in their approach to free-form improvisation. ... Click to View


Harris Eisenstadt Canada Day (w/ Wooley / Bauder / Niggenkemper): On Parade in Parede (Clean Feed)

A live recording of drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt's Canada Day band performing as a quartet with trumpeter Nate Wooley, saxophonist Matt Bauder, and bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, recorded at SUMP during their 2016 European tour, an exemplary set of free playing over a great set of original compositions, including a large work in 3 sections and 5 parts. ... Click to View


Trespass Trio (Zanussi / Strid / Kuchen): The Spirit of Pitesti (Clean Feed)

Trespass trio with Martin Kuchen on saxophone, Per Zanussi on double bass, and Raymond Strid on drums & percussion, tell us instrumental narrative through compassionate, impassioned and unorthodox writing and playing, about Romania's Pitesti Prison, where for 4 years around 1950 totalarian authorities practiced brainwashing experiments on the inmates. ... Click to View


Email:



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales



  Great Minds at Play  

Finding Art in Science, Monthly at Cornelia Street Cafe


By Matt Rand 2003-06-24

A room full of people who have just held in their hands a meteorite that hit the earth in 1576 is a tough room to play. And so it was that a good portion of the audience at Cornelia Street Cafe's "Entertaining Science" night (this one was "Heavy Metals") had left by the time Elliott Sharp picked up his miniature steel guitar. They had stayed through Oliver Sacks' lecture on the weights and properties of various metals, complete with fun handouts such as the meteorite, and even through David Brush's detailed explanation of the manner in which he sculpts with gold and steel. Both had something very tangible in common, in that both discussed specific ways that specific metals acted in specific situations.

So when Sharp took off his hat and started to set up his instrument and effects, people might have thought that this would either be too gimmicky ("Look, I'm making noise from metals!") or too vague ("Here is an ode to metal, bittersweet metal.").

Among those who stayed, however, was the inventor of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot. He was in for a treat, as Sharp warmed up with a series of harmonics played against a droning open string. Then, suddenly, he was playing a weepy slide melody, but the harmonics, fed through a delay pedal, hadn't stopped.

With the looping, he was able to add layer upon layer of new sound, from sliding melodies to distorted riffs to ethereal harmonics. However he didn't use the loops to create a bottomless cacophony. He let the more distant sounds slip out the back door, so that the sound at any given moment was a fluid combination of only the last couple of things that he had done.

Maybe Sharp got Mandelbrot's attention with the pattern, zooming into a space, exploring it, picking a spot and zooming in some more. The implication was that the piece could have been infinite, rather than a structured musical form.

"Entertaining Science" began on a whim. Los Angeles Timesscience writer and UCLA teacher KC Cole had written a book on the concept of nothing (The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered into the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything) and she wanted to do a reading at the restaurant and performance space Cornelia Street Cafe in Manhattan's West Village. Robin Hirsch, co-owner and founder of the cafe and a long-time friend of Cole's, however, was concerned that the reading wouldn't draw enough of a crowd to make any money.

As Hirsch told the story: "So she said, 'Well, how about me and Roald Hoffmann?' and I said 'Who's he?' 'He's a poet and he's a nobel laureate in chemistry.' And I said, 'Well in all candor, nobody is going to come for him either.' 'Well, so how about me, Roald and Oliver Sacks?' And it was an incredible night."

There was a write-up in the New Yorker, pegged on Sacks' appearance (Sacks is an NYU neuroscientist with an interest in unusual psychological phenomena, and is the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Awakenings and Uncle Tungsten, among other works). Anywhere between 150 and 300 people showed up, depending on whom you ask. Either way, it was more than the 85-person occupancy of the basement room where the event takes place. According to Sacks, "it was very much an experiment then, which rose almost by chance," but Hirsch and Hoffmann decided to make it a monthly event, with Hoffmann becoming the event's curator.

In January, 2002, the series began, individual nights usually centering around a theme, such as "Heavy Metals," "What's So Funny About Science?" and "Get Lost in Translation." With his vast network of friends and colleagues, Hoffmann manages to find three people per month to round out the program, though he sometimes uses fewer if a scientist can also sing, dance or otherwise entertain. No one gets paid, but there is a free dinner in it for the participants. "They sing for their supper," Hirsch said.

Sacks, who has attended almost every month, said it has been so successful because it's "informal, not like going to a lecture, and it's conversational, interactive. Roald has had some extraordinary and important people coming and there's a great hunger for contact with scientific ideas and artistic expression."

But the informality can also lead to difficulties in booking people used to academic settings. "Sometimes I have to twist the scientists' hands a little bit to get them to participate," Hoffman said. "There are a lot of great scientists who are just afraid of standing in front of a stage in a Cafe."

About a month after "Heavy Metals," the subject of the next "Entertaining Science" event was music itself, or "Music on the Brain." Neurobiologist Fredrik Ullen of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and psychologist and cognitive scientist Carol Krumhansl from Cornell spoke about the brain's perception of music. Krumhansl discussed the perception of musical key and how that relates to the idea of expectation (such as you expect the song "Happy Birthday" to resolve in the same key in which it started). Ullen, who is also a renowned pianist, discussed the organization of various parts of the brain involved in making the rhythmic movements involved in playing an instrument, and performed compositions by Gyorgy Ligeti and Frederic Chopin on the piano.

There was, though, a disconnect between Ullen's lecture and his performance. His style on the piano, even while playing Chopin, was sober and unromantic. He played crisp, clear notes that brought out the structure of Chopin's writing rather than getting lost in the emotion of the piece. Then, even if the audience was still caught in Chopin's lilting melodies or Ligeti's churning rhythms, Ullen was not. He had stood up from the piano and he was already speaking and giving a PowerPoint demonstration. He would sit back down at the piano again, but just as an interlude oras an example during Krumhansl's talk. His music was his music and his science was his science. That his science was built around music did not seem to feed anything back into the music-making.

This is the difference between the science of music and the music of science. From one side of the table, scientists like Ullen and Krumhansl, or Sacks with his studies of music as a blueprint for motion for Parkinson's patients, attempt to find out why existing music affects us like it does. On the other side, Sharp is intent on creating music that seizes on the patterns that science has detected in nature. His compositions often follow structures based on the discoveries of mathematicians such as Fibonacci and Mandelbrot.

In the early 1970s, Sharp was studying music at Bard College and living in a house on the Hudson River. "I spent a lot of time walking along the river," he said, "and we had a porch, and you would see literally thousands and thousands of butterflies. There were times they would form patterns and almost seem on the verge of spelling out things. That led me to thinking about all the rhythmic structures we were composing, structures that are open-ended. It was all right there, all the fractal shit, pine cones and branches, streams and currents. It inevitably found its way into my thinking and I did a Hudson River series of compositions. They were all instruction sets, basically conceptual pieces, it being the '70s, but with a mathematical subtext.

"Self-similarity, mapping from the micro to the macro, is something that became very much a part of my approaches to composition, where I'm creating structures that echo each other both on a micro and a macro level, in the shape of the phrase from a 2-bar or 5-bar level out to its full structure."

But this kind of structure isn't obvious to every listener, and to many a piece made up of such algorithms might sound like a whole bunch of noise. In response to a questionabout the people who left the Heavy Metals show before Sharp had the chance to play, he explained that "music is the most abstract of all of the arts, and people either like it or they don't. The thing about music is you can't shut your eyes. Even with earplugs you're going to feel the vibration in the room... People are able to take in dissonant visual images much more easily than they can dissonant audio."

Sharp might be understating the point that visual dissonance is easier to stomach than audio dissonance. Ken Jolls, an Iowa State thermodynamics professor, jazz vibraphone player and January, 2003 Entertaining Science performer (he played the vibraphone and talked about its physics), has found that visual images of thermodynamic models make the traditionally undergrad-torturing concepts of thermodynamics far easier to understand for most students.

"The beauty of Gibbsian thermodynamics with its precisely connected functional structure can be demonstrated through computer imaging.... Ideas that have long been hidden under layers of abstraction now emerge through their understandable, spatio-geometric analogs," he wrote in his paper "Visualization in Classical Thermodynamics".

As with the intricate and beautiful images of Mandelbrot's fractals, a visual representation can make a concept more accessible. But we don't, for some reason, process sound the same way.

And yet Sharp wants the abstractions in his music to sing for themselves. For him, the listener shouldn't need to be versed in science or mathematics, or to have a copy of the score or an explanatory statement, to recognize the abstract structures from the sound of a given piece of music.

"I'm hoping someone hearing this music will understand, like a piece like 'SyndaKit,' they'll hear the complexity in it, they'll wonder how it's generated, maybe they'll hear the order, maybe they'll hear the rules," he said. "And they'll go backwards from thesound of the music to the systems that went into it, thinking about birds flocking, thinking about the way RNA molecules combine, thinking about genetic mutation, thinking about African drum choirs, thinking about how nature creates an algorithmic structure."

It's an ambitious approach. And it has won him a fan in Hoffmann, who said, "what attracts me to Elliott is a combination of just plain good musicianship and then this interesting thing where he plays on real instruments but he also does this computer work, simulates real things. And there's a deep intellectual structure to the work. My general feeling is there's something smart and intuitive about music, and if both are there, that's where Sharp is."

While some audience members might not yet be ready to skip their dinner reservations for the audio abstractions, Hoffmann likes what Sharp's getting at. Sharp uses science as an input, but creates something outside of science. Some scientists might stop at the boundary, waving at the bald-headed, black-wearing musician from inside their classrooms, but Hoffmann's humanized science brings him outside and into the cafe.

Hirsch and Sacks each brought up C.P. Snow when discussing Hoffman. Snow is best known for his mid 20th century work The Two Cultures, in which he examined the gulf between literary and scientific academics at Cambridge. He was disheartened by the ways in which academic specialization could work against the open sharing of knowledge.

Sacks explained that "Roald once gave a talk of the 'One Culture', against the Snow idea of two cultures, that comes out of the similarity of the creative processes, and also from, in many instances, some focusing on the same subjects. For example, language can be studied by a linguist, by neurolinguistics but also by a poet."

Hoffman is a Renaissance Man. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981 for his explanation of the geometric behavior of molecules, and he has published four books of poetry. He spoke six languages by the time he was 12 years old, all while he was traveling across Europe, a Jewish refugee from the Nazis. Now his goal is to "humanize science," because, simply, he is a human and a scientist.



continued...




The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco

Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Evan Parker/
John Russel/
Ian Brighton/
Phillip Wachsmann/
Marcio Mattos/
Trevor Taylor:
Reunion Live
From Cafe Oto
(FMR)



Miles Okazaki:
Trickster
(Pi Recordings)



Orchestra of the
Upper Atmosphere:
02
(Discus)



The Necks:
Unfold
[VINYL 2 LPs]
(Ideologic Organ)



Evan Parker/
John Edwards/
Steve Noble :
PEN
(Dropa Disc)



Ballister:
Low Level Stink
[VINYL & DVD]
(Dropa Disc)



Ivo Perelman/
Joe Morris/
Gerald Cleaver:
The Art Of
The Improv Trio
Volume 6
(Leo)



The International Nothing:
The Power Of
Negative Thinking
(Monotype)



Angelica Sanchez Trio
(w/ Michael Formanek/
Tyshawn Sorey):
Float the Edge
(Clean Feed)



Michael Attias Quartet
(w/ Ortiz/
Hebert/
Hebert):
Nerve Dance
(Clean Feed)



Harris Eisenstadt
Canada Day
(w/ Wooley/
Bauder/
Niggenkemper):
On Parade in Parede
(Clean Feed)



Trespass Trio
(Zanussi/
Strid/
Kuchen):
The Spirit of Pitesti
(Clean Feed)



MIR 8
(Andrea Belfi/
Werner Dafeldecker/
Hilary Jeffery/
Tim Wright):
Perihelion
[VINYL]
(Shhpuma)



Daniel Sarid Trio:
Leventuruos
(OutNow Recordings)



Trouble Kaze
(Fujii/
Agnel/
Tamura/
Pruvost/
Lasserre/
Orins):
June
(Helix Circum-Disc)



MarsaFouty
(Jean-Luc Foussat/
Fred Marty):
Concerts
(Fou Records)



Matt Mitchell
plays Tim Berne:
Forage
(Screwgun)



I Am Three
(Eberhard/
Neuser/
Marien):
Mingus Mingus Mingus
(Leo)



Simon Nabatov:
Monk 'N' More
(Leo)



Derek Bailey/
Joelle Leandre/
George Lewis/
Evan Parker :
28 Rue Dunois Juillet 1982
(Fou Records)







Squidco
Click here to
advertise with
The Squid's Ear






The Squid's Ear pays its writers.
Interested in becoming a reviewer?




The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2016 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (47477)