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Roadworks (Gallio / Streuli): As If You Were Here / Glassware [2 LPS + CD + DOWNLOAD] (Percaso)

A deluxe 2 album release: "Glassware" on CD was composed by Swiss saxophonist Christoph Gallio for a commission by the Art Council Of The Canton Aargau, performed with Raphael Loher (piano), Ernst Thoma (synth), Dominique Girod (bass), and Nicolas Stocker (drums); then reworked into something creatively experimental in the 2 LP "As If You Were Here"; engaging and spellbinding! ... Click to View


Joe Morris : Instantiation: Paradoxical (Glacial Erratic)

One part of New York improvising guitarist and composer Joe Morris' "Instantiation" project, where each part is uniquely composed with specific notated and operational components making each impossible to perform the same way twice, here in a studio recording with clarinetist Dan O'Brien, bassist Brad Barrett, and violinist Elinor Speirs. ... Click to View


William Parker : Conversations III [BOOK] (RogueArt)

The third book in New York improvising bassist William Parker's interview with other improvisers, here with 33 interviews, 29 works of art by Jeff Schlangler and 13 photographs by Jacques Bisceglia; interviews include Steve Dalachinsky, Pheeroan Aklaff, Hamiet Bluiett, Craig Harris, Gerry Hemingway, Jason Kao Hwang, Ingrid Laubrock, Joe McPhee, &c. ... Click to View


Phil Gibbs / Neil Metcalfe / Adrian Northover / Marcello Magliocchi: The Visitors (FMR)

Bringing diverse experience to collective improvisation, including various associations with Paul Dunmall, the quartet of guitarist Philip Gibbs, flutist Neil Metcalfe, saxophonist Adrian Northover on alto and tenor, and drummer Marcello Magliocchi are heard in six passionately restrained and technically superb improvisations beautifully recorded in the studio. ... Click to View


Monash Art Ensemble (Grabowsky / Neal / Ford / Hannaford Williamson / Evans / Hope): Here Now Hear [2 CDs] (FMR)

"Here Now Hear" is comprised of nine innovative Australian works commissioned and recorded by the Monash Art Ensemble between 2017-2019f, featuring an eclectic mix of contemporary cross-genre music by significant Australian composers: Paul Grabowsky, Kate Neal, Andrew Ford, Robert Burke, Cat Hope, Marc Hannaford, Paul Williamson, Johannes Luebbers and Sandy Evans. ... Click to View


Udo Schindler / Eric Zwang Eriksson: Poetry?? Ein Wurfelwurf (FMR)

Udo Schindler marks his 80th Salon fur Klang+Kunst in Munich as his first duo recording with a drummer, in a first-time meeting with long-time acquaintance, drummer/percussionist Eric Zwang Eriksson, joining him as they find inspired common ground with Schindler on alto sax, bass clarinet, cornet and euphonium and Eriksson using all aspects of his drums and percussive devices. ... Click to View


Speak Easy (Wassermann / Minton / Lehn / Blume): @ Konfrontationen (Confront)

Since 2009 the UK & European ea-improvising quartet Speak Easy with two remarkable vocalists, Phil Minton and Ute Wasserman (also on birdcall whistles), Thomas Lehn on analog synthesizer and Martin Blume on drums & percussion, have startled and amazed listeners, as heard here in this extended performance at the 2016 Festival Konfrontationen in Nickelsdorf. ... Click to View


CARTOON (Biscoe / Pope / Turner): Change of Meaning (Confront)

A trio of UK free improvisers--Chris Biscoe on alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, John Pope on double bass, and Roger Turner on drumset & percussion--in two extended performances, one recorded in the studio in West London, the other live at The Bridge in Newcastle, collective improvisation of great clarity, direction and creativity. ... Click to View


Hymn (Dowding / Hallett / Ross): Silence, Then Birds (Confront)

Mysteriously evolving improvisations from the trio of Chris Dowding on trumpet, Sylvia Hallett on violin, bicycle wheel & saw, and Dave Ross using a self-designed time modulator, two recordings from St. Paul's Church in Marylebone and one at Camouflage in Norwich, ea-improv that has a natural feeling and beautifully paced development; fascinating. ... Click to View


Brain Dead Ensemble (Eldridge / Kiefer / Polymeneas / Magnusson): EFZ (Confront)

Two feedback cellos, a feedback bass and a threnoscope, a software tool used for for drones, live coding & microtonal composition, as the quartet of Alice Eldridge, Chris Kiefer, Thanos Polymeneas and Thor Magnusson meet in the studio in Glasgow to perform these heavily dark and subtly detailed improvisations, incredible environments of ominous and cathartic sound. ... Click to View


Harris Eisenstadt (w/ Wooley / Hawkins / Niggenkemper): Canada Day Quartet Live (Clean Feed)

While staying in the village Poschiavo in Switzerland at the Uncool Artist Residency program with his wife and son, drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt composed more than 50 single-line, three-system unison compositions and multi-voice tunes, flexible to be arranged for any size group, as heard in this all-star quartet configuration of his Canada Day ensemble. ... Click to View


Eve Risser: Apres Un Reve (Clean Feed)

A remarkably varied and unique approach to prepared piano that French pianist Eve Risser refers to as "piano droit", heard in her performance at FGO Barbara, in Paris on an upright piano, chosen for its specific mechanical qualities that allow Risser to generate a surprising amount of rhythmic variety, as she performs a single work mixing composed and improvised elements. ... Click to View


Zack Clarke Trio (w/ Kim / Cass / Dre Hocevar): Vertical Shores (Clean Feed)

A lyrical album of original compositions from New York pianist Zack Clarke, in an acoustic jazz piano trio with double bassist Kim Cass and drummer Dre Hocevar, recording in the Systems Two studio in Brooklyn for nine pieces of both optimistic and mercurial temperament, a great example mixing virtuosic form and perceptive communication in a classic configuration. ... Click to View


Arthurs / Khroustaliov / Sartorious: Hangkerum (Clean Feed)

An album of alien soundscape and un-anticipatable rhythm with seductive brass sonority floating above, from the Swiss trio of trumpeter Tom Arthurs, Isambard Khroustaliov on electronics, and Julian Sartorious on drums & percussion, contrasting complex and strangely aberrant sonic and rhythmic environments with lyrically virtuosic trumpet work. ... Click to View


Joao Lencastre's Communion 3 (w/ Sacks / Opsvik): Song(s) Of Hope (Clean Feed)

The 2nd release on Clean Feed by drummer Joao Lencastre's Communion, a shape-shifting ensemble here configured with 2 New York improvisers from Lencastre's associations over 15 years in NYC--pianist Jakob Sacks and bassist Eivind Opsvik--for 10 studio recordings which include the 4-part "Magnetic Frequency", blurring lyrical avant jazz and chamber forms; beautiful. ... Click to View


Gabriel Ferrandini (w/ Faustino / Sousa): Volupias [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

Turning to one third of his more familiar Red Trio setting, percussionist/drummer Gabriel Ferrandini enlists bassist Hernani Faustino and tenor saxophonist Pedro Sousa (Sousa/Berthling/Ferrandini, PeterGabriel Duo) to perform 9 Ferrandini compositions named after streets in Lisbon leading from Ferrandini's house to his studio and then to ZDB. ... Click to View


Oddly Imploded (Gregoretti / Argenziano): They Just Sit About (Shhpuma)

Italian sonic explorer Francesco Gregoretti uses his drumkit like a lead instrument, amplifying and modifying its sound through effects, as he pursues his varied "Imploded" bands (Strongly Imploded, Grizzly Imploded) fueled by the mathematics of Chaos Theory, here with guitarist Maurizio Argenziano in an album of dense sound, from near-minimal to highly interactive. ... Click to View


Spirit in Spirit (Lencastre / Van der Weide / Govaert): Live at Zaal 100 (FMR)

A free jazz project from the trio of Portuguese alto saxophonist Jose Lencastre, French double bassist Raoul Van der Weide, and Dutch drummer Onno Govaert, performing at Amsterdam's Zaal 100 in 2018 for a concert of collective improvisation, intelligent discourse of coherently creative progressions and energetic but never overblown playing; exemplary. ... Click to View


Threnody (Berthling / Kuchen / Noble): A Paradigm Of Suspicion (Trost Records)

Previously a trio under their own names releasing the album "Threnody", the grouping of saxophonist Martin Kuchen (Angles), Johan Berthling (Fire!, Angles) and Steve Noble (St. Francis Duo, SFQ) now take the name Threnody as they burn through four extended improvisations of quickly shifting rhythm and dynamic and intensity; a remarkably passionate album. ... Click to View


Ted Daniel with Henry Grimes / Michael Marcus: Duology [VINYL] (Ujamaa Records)

Legendary New York trumpeter Ted Daniel, whose skills were honed in the 70s Loft Scene, in his 4th Duology album with the trio of Michael Marcus on clarinets and Henry Grimes on bass and violin, the leader also performing on French hunting horn, an album of varied mood and intensity that sits firmly in the free jazz legacy of daring harmonies and melodies. ... Click to View


Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units: Virtual Particles [2 CDS] (Evil Clown)

An octet version of the Boston improvising ensemble Leap of faith Orchestra, in a 3-part work using composer and multi-reedist, multi-instrumentalist David Pecks' timed segments, guiding the musicians through the piece while keeping the performance exuberantly controlled and intensely focused, finding unusual paths for creative statement. ... Click to View


Brotzmann / Schlippenbach / Bennink: Fifty Years After... Live at the Lila Eule 2018 (Trost Records)

50 years after saxophonist Peter Brotzmann's Octet recorded the legendary "Machine Gun" album, the trio of Berlin pianist, composer Alexander von Schlippenbach and Dutch percussionist Han Bennink commemorated the album at Lila Eule in Bremen, the concert heard here so successful that the trio decided to release the album and continue on as a working trio. ... Click to View


Kodian Trio: III (Trost Records)

Recorded during their 2018 European tour, the 3rd album from the Kodian Trio of Andrew Lisle on drums, Dirk Serries on guitar, and Colin Webster on alto saxophone, is influenced by their active traveling and performing, evoking those experiences in inventive free jazz with experimental intention, from the boisterously energetic to the introspectively reflective. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Sumac: Even for just the briefest moment Keep charging this "expiation" [VINYL 2 LPs] (Trost Records)

The second collaboration between the American avant-metal rock trio Sumac of guitarist Aaron Turner, drummer Nick Yacyshyn and bassist Brian Cook and Japanese legendary guitarist and vocalist Keiji Haino finds the quartet settling down from their first blast of an album, here slowly building their heavy feedback-drenched, ponderous and epic music. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Jim O'Rourke / Oren Ambarchi: In the past only geniuses were capable of staging the perfect crime (also known as a revolution) Today anybody can accomplish their aims... (Black Truffle)

The ninth album from the enduring trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, and Oren Ambarchi, recorded in 2015 at Tokyo's SuperDeluxe, with both Ambarchi and O'Rourke performing on drums and percussion, O'Rourke also using a Hammond Organ and Ambarchi on flute, while Haino asserts himself on guitar, electronics and voice, in 2 groove-based pieces and 2 side-long epics. ... Click to View


Konstrukt + Ken Vandermark: Kozmik Bazaar [VINYL] (KARLRECORDS)

In November 2018, the groove-oriented Turkish electric improvising quartet Konstrukt of saxophonist & electronic artist Korhan Futaci, guitarist Umut Caglar, double bassist Apostolos Sideris, and drummer Berkan Tilavel, met with Chicago multi-reedist Ken Vandermark in Instanbul, recording these improvisation, a mix of muscular playing and psychedelic interaction. ... Click to View


Max Eastley / Fergus Kelly / Mark Wastell: The Map Is Not The Territory (Confront)

The 8th release on Confront's Core series of factory-pressed CDs brings together improvisers Max Eastley, Fergus Kelly and Mark Wastell, employing electroacoustic devices, invented instruments, metal percussion, a piano frame and tam tam to create a rich and mysterious sound world, darkly hopeful emanations in a nighttime traversal across unknown lands. ... Click to View


Chris Burn / Philip Thomas: as if as (Confront)

Contemporary composer, improviser and pianist Chris Burn in 4 lively, playful and fasciatingly structured works, as heard in Philip Thomas's renderings: "as if as"; "only the snow"; a transcription of Derek Bailey's "from ten, two, and three" in 6 parts; "pressings and screening" in 4 parts; and "the sky a silver dissonance" with Kate Ledger as a 2nd pianist. ... Click to View


Bill Orcutt: Odds Against Tomorrow (Palilalia)

After his recent work interpreting the American Songbook, guitarist Bill Orcutt returns to his own compositions in an album cleanly recorded through a Fender Twin in Orcutt's living room, with three pieces multi-tracked, the rest simply pure Orcutt, reflecting beautiful blues-tinged lyricism, jarring interwining of notes, and impressive passages of superb virtuosity. ... Click to View


Bill Orcutt: Odds Against Tomorrow [VINYL] (Palilalia)

After his recent work interpreting the American Songbook, guitarist Bill Orcutt returns to his own compositions in an album cleanly recorded through a Fender Twin in Orcutt's living room, with three pieces multi-tracked, the rest simply pure Orcutt, reflecting beautiful blues-tinged lyricism, jarring interwining of notes, and impressive passages of superb virtuosity. ... Click to View


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  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
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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Threnody
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