Sunday, 30 October 2011

reviewing @ london_resonance [part 4]

words _ gian paolo galasi

New stuff released by re:konstruKt from Istanbul. Connexions Gallery was founded in 1990 and held by Alice Kwiatkowski. Its purpose is to promote art encompassing media and style. Here in Easton, Pennsylvania, Gary Joseph Hassay recorded with different partners every time the three volumes of the "Live at the Connexions Galley" series. 

Actively performing since 1979, influenced by Hungarian gipsy violin music, R&B/soul, Albert Ayler, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Broetzmann and Evan Parker, and involved in Tibetan throat singing (as clearly audible at the beginning of this record), altoist Gary Hassay offers in this VOL. 3 a duo performance with drummer Tatsuya Nakatani while in the previous volumes people like reedist Biaise Shiwula and pianist Ellen Christi were featured. About 33 minutes of meditative, spacey music, in which Nakatani self-built percussions - drumset, bowed gongs, cymbals, singing bowls, metal objects, bells - offer something more than a meditative background for the altoist. The best quality of the interplay is that kind of independence through fluency that usually is the sign of extreme dexterity.

re:056 | Gary Hassay / Tatsuya Nakatani - Excerpt from Sonkei

I was discussing recently with Umut Çağlar via email about the recent konstruKt quartet release featuring Evan Parker, probably the only release of the label not  totally focused - as far as how much I was able to pick up from the catalogue - and, by Umut own admission, due the to lack of familiarity with London-based saxophone player technical command. 

Not a false step, since the first part of the record features a couple of beautiful soprano solos, while only in the second part of the group improvisation the quartet seems finally to find its own way - but improvisation is like that, the risky way. I wonder if the lack was in the band's skills or, more probably, in relating with such an important personality - but even self reliability is something that can be developed with time, while I'm listening to "Tactic", Umut Çağlar duo recording with Gunnar Lettow, originally member of the avant-rock band Nice Noise. A bass prepared with spears, clips, brushes, and a guitarist influenced by djing, computer music and improvisation give shape to 6 different tracks in which 'constructed parts', as Caglar would put it, are assembled in a coherent and varied musical speech.

re:055 | Gunnar Lettow / Umut Çağlar - D4

Julian Bonequi is a Mexican digital artist and real time musician (mostly relying on noise and improvisation). Curator of Audition Record, he has performed with the Berlin and the London Improvisers Orchestra, William Parker, Keith Tippett, Eddie Prévost, Islak Kopek, while as a young musician trained himself in different psychedelic band, rock in opposition and chamber music ensembles. 

"Sangre Azteca" is a solo record with Bonequi on drums and voice dedicated to the ancient poem 'Nikitoa' ('I wonder') by NezahualcÛyotl. An attempt to put 'emotional instability, semantic landscapes and cathartic explosions and even alienated as an act of concentration' as the main focus of his music, it has in some tracks as 'Kamayoukaui/Chokilitsatsi' a feeling similar to Antonin Artaud broadcast 'Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu', also composed only by voice and percussions.

Friday, 28 October 2011

reviewing @ london resonance [part 3]

words _ gian paolo galasi

Another new label, this time from Italy. Aut Records is devoted, as put on the website, to 'projects concerning unusual sonorities'. The first three releases are all from 2011. Crisco 3 is Francesco Bigoni on tenor sax and clarinet, Piero Bittolo Bon on alto sax and alto clarinet and Beppe Scardino on baritone sax and bass clarinet. 

About 40 minutes, equally divied in 8 original compositions /improvisations, plus a cover of 'Twenty Years', originally played by Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, and 'Philosophy of the World' by the Shaggsdesignated by Frank Zappa as No. 3 best band in history on a Norwegian newspaper - my strong advice is to pick up also the original song ... you'll see. The wide use of melodies and a certain stress on the harmonic construction makes me curious about what I would be able to find after a cross-pollination with some of the most de-constructed live acts listened in my two-months 'residency' here in London.

Alberto Collodel (clarinets), Alessio Faraon (trumpets), Davide Lorenzon (tenor and alto saxophone), Ivan Pilat (baritone saxophone, trumpet, voice), with special guest Oreste Sabadin (clarinet) show in Kongrosian's "Bootstrap Paradox" a music that seems devoted to the formula of the reeds-quartet that at the dawn of American experimental was probed by both the World and the Rova Saxophone Quartet. 

In those days, the attempt to stretch and crook the melodies in order to give life to a music extroverted and meditative at the same time was widespread, and so the attempt to use melodic instruments also as a rhythmic source; it's exactly what the 16 tracks offer for their 34 minutes. Another quality of Aut records in an era of overproduction is conciseness, what's decisely offbeat in these days.

For all the fourteen tracks of "Tripterygion", vibist Luigi Vitale and sopranist Luciano Caruso give life to a music less pitched and pondering in respect to what the choice of instruments can inspire to the listener. Away from usual references, one can also think to the Lacy/Waldron duo during his last years, but while Luciano Caruso is decisely more outgoing and lyrical, his younger partner exploits his potential in order to put himself now on the foreground (Tripterygion Tripteronotus), now at the same, pointillistic and fractured level (Balistes Carolines), while sometimes (Halimeda Tuna)  the two instruments are working as one. 

CARUSO-VITALE Tripterygion

Thursday, 27 October 2011

reviewing @ london_resonance [part 2]

words _ gian paolo galasi

I discovered Mauro Sambo recently, thanks to the profile I wrote for the Istanbul-based label re:konstruKt. Versatile and many-sided, carrying since many years a personal artistic expression at the convergence of sculpture, performance, videoart and music, even if not still widely recognized as he deserves, Sambo is also a multi-instrumentalist: alto sax, tenor sax, flute, bass clarinet, double bass, electronics, iPad, iPhone, percussions. His last effort "Presto (dicono) giungerà la neve" [in English "Soon, they say, the snow will come"] takes his title from a Jorge Louis Borges novel. 

In the past, Michel Foucault dedicated his "The Order of Things" to the writer, underlining a concept of 'other space' (heterotopia) that lies in between the things and the words, a space neither here nor there. Improv fans familiar with Sun Ra probably will be able to connect with the concept, but the music here is really somewhere in between improvisation and soundart, electronic and acoustic, analogic and digital, music and space, while his previous "... di Origine Oscura" was a little bit shifted towards sculpture. 

05 - 06 09 2011

The Spontaneous River Ensemble was assembled in 2007 by Jason Kao Hwang and Patricia Nicholson Parker for a tribute to Leroy Jenkins, that died that year. Their first performance took place at the Vision Festival XII. Billy Bang was the conductor of the first version of Hwang's Symphony of Soul (Mulatta Records/Flying Panda Music, 2011) that reached his definitive version in 2008 where it was performed at the NY's Living Theatre. 

The ensemble is composed by Hwang's regular partners (Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, Andrew Drury on drums and Ken Filiano on bass) in the Edge quartet, 14 violins, 5 violas, 7 guitars (featuring Dom Minasi), 5 cellos and 6 string basses (amongst them Michael Bisio, since about one year regular partner of pianist Matthew Shipp).

Partly inspired in his conduction by his past collaborations with Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris and Henry Threadgill, the music contained in this record is related by Jason Hwang himself to the jiwa, the individual embodied soul of every human being. The orchestral arrangements are conceived as a dialogue of souls and an exploration of the kinetic energies of the music itself through the layering of his particles.

Ilia Belorukov's Intonema released at the same time with Wozzek also Bewitched Concert, a 40 minutes improvisation reminiscent of contemporary music by a 'spontaneous' and international quintet composed by singer Thomas Buckner, flutist and composer Edyta Fil, pianist, composer and sound engineer Alexey Lapin, cellist Juho Laitinen and Belorukov himself on alto saxophone and objects.

While Dmitry Ukhov in the liner notes mentions Pauline Oliveros and her Deep Listening music, and also Witold Lutoslawski's Hesitant second symphony, we can take note of a work perfectly balanced between contemporary music and improvisation, in which the backgrounds of every musician are perfectly recognizable. It's not that common today listening to young performers (Thomas Buckner is the only one to have more than 40 years of career on his shoulders), coming from different backgrounds even if with a slight balance on contemporary music, still using as means of expressions devices related to recognizable , while stirred, idioms and looking for a coherent structure. So the record - as the other two in this article - can be also taken as an important clue in order to avoid for free improvisation the risk of involution as, apart from single musicians, happened to sound art at least in the last ten years. 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

reviewing @ london_resonance [part 1]

words: gian paolo galasi

Since my first days here in London I received via mail or digital download many records kindly provided by musicians residing in different parts of the world. While waiting for the issuing of an extended analysis for each one on a webmagazine, I decided to start an overview here on london_resonance, just curious about their matching with the live reviews for London-based listeners, while at the same time trying to shorten the schedule. 

Ilia Belorukov is the young founder of Saint Petersburg-based Intonema label, organizer of the festival Zeni Geva and collaborator of Ignaz Schick (Ambiances Magnétiques). The first two outputs of the label are Act III: Comics by Wozzek and Bewitched Concert by a quintet composed by Thomas Buchner (voice), Edyta Fil (flute), Ilia Belorukov (alto saxophone, objects), Alexej Lapin (upright piano) and Juho Laitinen (cello, voice). 

Wozzek is basically the duo of Belorukov (prepared/processed alto sax, ipad, objects) and bassist Mikhail Ershov, and through his three major releases and many eps since 2007 evolved from the initial jazzcore influenced by Painkiller, Zu and Diskaholic Anonimous Trio up to this first physical publication, accompanied by a beautiful booklet in which Victor Melamed is responsible of hypercinetizing Frank Miller, while the 47 small compositions for an amount of 23 minutes are the soundtrack the duo, with the addiction of Dmitriy Vediashkin on electric guitar, Dmitriy Krotevic on trombone, Maria Grigoryeva on violin, and Mikhail Tsypin on voice, is providing for it. Splinters of sound, of voices, of onomatopoeias. Classic Guide to Strategy and Raymond Scott are the obvious references, while the second, ten minute track - actually a remix of the first - is made of a more wide and stretched landscape, as if Popol Vuh were playing found objects.

Jason Kao Hwang, recently granted by Downbeat with the second place as 'Rising Star of Violin' and a 'reissue of the year' by the New York City Jazz record for Commitment: The Complete Recordings 1981-1983 (NoBusiness, 2010), issues on Euonimous Records the Edge quartet's Crossroads Unseen and the Spontaneous River ensemble's Symphony of Souls. 

Edge are Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, fluegelhorn), Andrew Drury (drum set), Ken Filiano (string bass) and Hwang (composer, violin, viola) providing a buch of compositions whose feeling and spirit is what the New York loft season produced at his best (with Henry Threadgill's Air as the main possible reference, if one). Long time associated with William Parker, and responsible for a quite different style from Leroy Jenkins, the main reference for improvising on violin, full of Asian colors without being ethnic - a subtly asian-tinged use of space, sensitive as far as harmonic and melodic architectures and interplay, Hwang and his fellows are responsibles for a music beautifully cooked up, revitalizing a tradition of free improvisation in showing us the single improvisers shifting their dialogues with fluency and sharpness, cinematic devices and a title track worthy of being listed in a forthcoming best of 2011. 

From East Sixth Street Jason Kao Hwang

I talked about Islak Kopek on Allaboutjazz months ago - skim through it and pick up what you want directly from re:konstruKt digital label after reading, so I'm happy to introduce a record (Istanbul Improv Sessions 4th May, Evil Rabbit Records, 2011) made by the first improvising group active in Istanbul since 1995 added with flutist, improviser, composer Mark Alban Lotz

While I'm planning to put down a retrospective on the activity of the band via an interview with Korhan Erel, I'd like to point at the fact that the music herein is an excellent document of the different approaches to composition and improvisation of the group - basically electroacoustic improvisation with a 'chamber' approach, since the fourtheen small pieces, from 1 to about 5 minutes - are featuring different combinations of musicians. Kevin Whitehead in the notes writes about a cosmic sound carrying with it balinese gamelan, senegalese drumming, navajo and bulgarian and australian aboriginal singing, peruvian pipes. That means that one of the best quality of the record is being higly evocative. I would add that the best moment here is Our, an explicit, moving dedication to Albert Ayler and to the 'speaking in tongues' era, and an indication on how a group of musicians can bring together non idiomatic expressions and a well rooted sense of what dealing with structures mean.

14 Our (group)

Friday, 21 October 2011

evan parker john edwards tony marsh @ the vortex 10/20/2011

words + photos: gian paolo galasi

Skimming through bookstores during my free time can culminate in picking up an old copy of Roland Barthes' Image Music Text. In Musica Practica, a short essay included in the book and dedicated to the music of Beethoven, Barthes took his good care in order to describe the inaudible in the composer's music - 'something for which hearing is not the exact locality' - and defines as musica practica something as an approach to music and its codes that consists 'not in receiving, in knowing or in feeling that text, but in writing it anew, in crossing its writing with a fresh inscription, so too reading [...] is to operate music, to draw it (it is willing to be drawn) into an unknown praxis. [...] What is the use of composing [...]? To compose, at least by propensity, is to give to do, not to give to hear but to give to write'.

Since one of the last Parker's solo efforts on records, the 2010 Psi release 'Whitstable Solo' features a poem written by Harry Gilonis especially for that record and contains an open reference to Roland Barthes concept of jouissance - usually translated in English with 'bliss', related to the effort of listener to re-enact the different codes of a text reinforcing one another - it can seem suitable reasoning in those terms about the old diatribe 'improvisation vs composition', and the stress improvisers like Derek Bailey or Cecil Taylor put on the blurring of the boundaries between the twos.

Tonight Evan Parker plays with John Edwards - a mainstay of the London scene, that started playing the bass in the '80s in context related to both music and dance - and Tony Marsh on drums. A long, dense concert, full of jouissance so, and, for the first time since I'm here, full of references to the blues. Thelonious Monk openly - well, not the first time so far, but also some nods to John Coltrane and - far from pure saxophone references - a feeling reminiscent of Sonny Rollins. Something in the air, not necessarily related to the interplay. The warmth, the feeling.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

mopomoso @ the vortex 10/16/2011

words + photos: gian paolo galasi

Simon Rose on baritone sax
Last Mopomoso monthly session at the Vortex opened with a trio of regular players of the LIO. Restart is composed by Benedict Taylor on viola, his brother Noel at clarinet and Noura Sanatian on violin. 

It's always interesting to see young improvisers looking for their own path and dimension, and so tonight the trio provided a set in which to show their ability in building their own music layer upon layer from different short assertions, increasing and varying. Still in need to develop awareness about the dynamics of the space, and dealing with different volumes of sound, the trio also reminded us how it is harder but even more adventurous to exploit the possibilities of such a combination as clarinet and strings, in comparison with the 'classic' improv sax/double bass/drums line-up.

The second set was Simon Rose's solos on both baritone and alto. Well known for his trio Badlands with Steve Noble and Simon Fell, and recently represented in a beautifully recorded solo album on baritone - 'Schmetterling', on Nottwo, exploits the resonances of the boat-shaped hall in which it was recorded - Rose gifted the audience with a beautiful performance, full of nuances, circular breathings and something like a theatrical or ritual attitude, but very near to the essence and far from rethoric.

Louis Moholo Moholo
The third, announced group of Steve Beresford, Shabaka Hutchings and Guillome Viltard was added with Louis Moholo Moholo, back from the previous night duo with Evan Parker and then  'groupcomposing' with John Tchicai and Tony Marsh also. A multi-instrumentalist since long time associated with the Company but also rounded enough to play with The Slits and The Flying Lyzards, Beresford plays the piano with an ironic touch and a resolute, but light, manner, with Shabaka Hutchings - Zed U, The Heliocentrics, Polar Bear, Courtney Pine's Jazz Warriors - perfectly functional with the group, and Guillome Viltard providing the right garment to Moholo's pulses. 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

evan parker _ louis moholo moholo _ john tchicai _ tony marsh @ the vortex 10/15/2011

word + photos: gian paolo galasi

Left to right: Tony Marsh, Evan Parker, John Tchicai, Louis Moholo
Lair of Evan Parker when he's in London, on 14 and 15 october the Vortex Jazz Bar hosted a quartet composed of drummers Tony Marsh and Louis Moholo Moholo, Evan Parker on tenor and John Tchicai on drums. The program of residence offers a couple of duo performances - Parker/Moholo Moholo and Tchicai/Marsh - before a final tutti. 

Drastically late to report about the first duo performance - cabs are futile if you don't know the postcodes and I'm paying a fee for being in London only since one month and a half exacty - I can finally enjoy Tchicai and Marsh together. Tchicai style is recognizable since his first appearances on record, notably with the New York Art Quartet and their manifesto 'Black Dada Nihilismus', featuring Amiri Baraka on voice, that mislabeled him as a New York-based musician - in fact his most well-known collaborations of the '60s were related to NY artists like Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, John Coltrane and Albert Ayler - while he spent most of his playing in Northern Europe, being born in 1936 in Copenhagen. 

Tony Marsh
His duo with Tony Marsh was of high interest since his "way of floating over [...] a non-metric pulse", as Evan Parker himself told to Graham Lock during an old interview for The Wire, produced a particular alignement with Marsh's way of building rhythms around a variously produced pulse, now explicitly stressed, then elliptically beckoned with brushes or a cymbal, and sometimes suspended with the purpose of opening the space for more stratified and rapid interventions. Such ability is due to his heritage, since Marsh started playing in the Seventies with the jazz-rock band Major Surgery, and then with people like John Surman, Mike Osborne, Paul Rutherford, Barry Guy, Elton Dean and Harry Beckett.

After a short break, the announced trio performance of Parker, Tchicai and Moholo Moholo became a quartet with the two horns and the two drums. While Marsh was mostly floating around with a saving feeling, without loosing his ability to express nuances, Louis Moholo Moholo pulsed almost (ir)regularly at the core, while Evan Parker showed, being this the fourth time I see him since in London, a notable versatility. Tchicai built his assertions in a way that is melodically reminiscent of the most obliques Albert Ayler lines and sometimes nod to the lyrical approach of John Coltrane, but with an attitude that reminds of Archie Shepp even if in a controlled and never redundant way. 

If this description is a superficial and general statement, the result is a music that reaches climaxes avoiding dramatic constructions, and leads to an essential flow of music in which the peaks are never obtained with open references to the melodies but via the layering of different elements emerging with the interplay. Evan Parker in this context showed a great adaptability, sustaining and dialoguing with his partner. Probably tonight gig will be featured on a BBC Radio 3 future broadcasting or record.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

sottovoce festival _2011 @ various 09/29 - 10/02/2011

words + photos: gian paolo galasi


Guro Skumsnes Moe at Sottovoce
A multi-venue four-days festival is the perfect situation to encounter many acts, meeting performers, enjoying beautiful surprises while at the same time keeping an eye to the wider ladscape, so to match all the pieces and got the meaning and the current direction of it all. 

Divided in two branches - electronic and acoustic - the Sottovoce Festival was scattered in different venues - the Working Men's Club in Bethnal Green, the Cafe Oto in Dalston and LUX/Electra in Islington, ending with the double rooms - actually, two church buildings - of the Nave, on the borders of Angel Islington and Stoke Newigton boroughs. 

Supported by the magazine The Wire, the digital "hub" Diogenes and the art agency Electra, the festival was opened on Sept. 9 with the screening of "Charlemagne Palestine, the Golden Sound", followed by a Q & A with the French independent director Anne Maregiano. At its second screening after Paris, the film is a good attempt to show the spiritual atmosphere behind the music of a composer often mislabeled - as he also states - as 'minimalist' but in fact constantly devoted to a quest for beauty through sound, outside the boudaries of Western aesthetics since his early influences: jew devotional music, his early main reference Pandith Pran Nath, his friend and still today active collaborator Tony Conrad. 

It would be also interesting to have had the possibility to dig into his multi-faceted career in order to give space also to the collaboration with PanSonic, or the relationship with Pierre Chaeffer, but the 65 minutes movie is anyway trying to widen the boundaries of TV Docs format in order to give to the spectators the possibility to enter into the composer's world, and it actually reached its goal.

After a short break, two live sets were provided by BBBLOOD (aka Paul Watson) and Lina Lapelyte, consisting respectively of a flow of noise through tape loops, guitar distortion pedals and objects, and a less dense but equally rough set built around violin and laptop. While younger Watson is experimenting since 8 years with noise and electronic, with strong physical urgency, lithuanian-native Lapelyte is an academic trained violinist whose career is equally distributed in sound installations and scores for dance, theatre and film, and improvised music.


Rogelio Sosa
Friday's night at Cafe OTO is opened by a young, interesting and talented guitarist, Havard Skaset. His attitude can remind Arto Lindsay, via his highly saturated sound and his edgily absorbed attitude, but what's most relevant is that Skaset is playing 'around' the guitar as musicians like Anthony Pateras are playing 'on' piano. 

I've still quoted Pateras considerations on the symbolic value of the instruments, and if classical piano is an open reference to academic music, the guitar can be taken as the symbol of a certain 'straight' approach to narration (and even self-narration) through music in popular culture. But when playing, Skaset can stop the flow using a kind of muted - or 'unplugged', so to speak - 'tapping', a device often common in fusion/hard rock music usally used in order to create an emotional climax within the 'solo' of a song. In doing exactly the opposite, Havard is changing the sense of a performance on guitar. No surprise, since young Oslo-based guitarist have still worked with people like Ikue Mori and Maja SK Ratkje

Something similar is provided by Rogelio Sosa, the other unexpected and excellent show tonight. Sound artist, composer and promoter of experimental music, curator and co-director of the Radar Festival and director of the experimental music festival Aural at FMX in Mexico City, Sosa began studying computer music at the IRCAM in Paris - while Boulez in person was in London on Sunday to perform his Pli Selon Pli - and some of his works are featured in compiled CDs featured with the Arditti Quartet, Luigi Russolo and Charlemagne Palestine. While expecting for a new release on Sub Rosa exactly this week, Rogelio Sosa's set was defined by a rich, intense and highly controlled sound, showing a profound mastery over dynamics and space, while at the same time well conscious of the dialectics of improvisation.

Finally, Ida Lunden and Martin Brandlmayr gifted the audience with their first UK solo performances. While the younger Swedish composer and improviser made use of her electronic tools for a dense, solid but sensitive approach to music, Brandlmayr gave a tipical proof of his tension-and-release rhythm contructions. His use of the drumkit, tonight added with a vibe set, generated a constant groove out of sharp and decise gestures, with a destructured but highly fluidified approach typical of a post-rock/avant garde oriented musician, even if with a more dried and essential manner gained tanks to his militancy with Polwechsel and his collaborations with Christian Fennesz, Chad Taylor, Otomo Yoshihide and John Tilbury.


Christine Sehnaoui Abdelnour and Christian Munthe
Saturday and Sunday finally, were the most interesting days in order to have a full approach to what's on today's improv, avant and electronic music world in general. Saturday afternoon was opened by Paul Dunmall.

With such a long CV on his shoulders including the likes of Alice Coltrane, the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, the collective Mujicians featuring Keith Tippett, Tony Levin and Paul Rogers, but also liberal collaborator with agents of younger generations like Chris Corsano and involved in improvisation as much as in experimental rock, folk and ethnic music, Dunmall fulfilled the audience with a set comprising four different solo statements. Only the last one was on saxophone, while the other three were featuring three different kind of traditional pipes, a couple from Iran and one from ancient European folklore. 

Dunmall's research on ethnic pipes is a natural prosecution of his soprano playing. Differently, there was no drone to be surrounded by microtones as in Eastern and Western pipes, but a precise approach allowing him to show the mastery that is widely and suitable recognised by both critics and the audience. Right after Dunmall, Anna Zaradny offered with Robert Piotrowicz - the latter playing on Sunday afternoon - the most personal and intriguing live act of electronic music in the entire festival. 

Most of the people involved in sound manipulation too much often provide a - more or less intricated - flow of sound, mostly one-dimentional, working on blocks and masses, providing only a layering in which one element of the flux, mostly rhythm-like, is suddenly surrounded by or juxtaposed to another one, dealing with subliminal as a manieristic repetition of the hystorical industrial/noise pursuits - it's the case of Blood Stereo and Mark Dugan, playing the same day - while most of sound artists too often work in adding an element after the other, using visuals in a way that risks to transform music in a mere soundtrack, as in the case of Carlo Casas.

Anna Zaradny
Apart from that, Anna Zaradny shared her idea of sound as a massive, physical experience, but her touch is subtle, nuanced, and her set presented a composer and improviser - she also plays alto saxophone - in her own full right and a recognizable touch. After her, the small acoustic room was still responsible for another couple of improvisations. The first is provided by Havard Skaset (this time at acoustic guitar) and Guro Skumsnes Moe. Both their performance, and the following duo of Christine Abdelnour and Christian Munthe are the most interesting, for many reasons.

As still told, Skaset and Moe gave the idea of playing 'around' the instrument, meaning that their approach to the instrument is 'oblique'. They don't play idiomatic, neither non-idiomatic - at least as we were taught by Derek Bailey. They exploit their instrument's bodies and strings, pauses, silence, microtonality. 

In fact, Polwechsel and Eddie Prevost's workshoppers make something similar but while the first ones used tactile or frictioned sound in a larger context, the latters are encouraged to introduce chance at a certain level, creating a relationship with the dynamics of improvisation. Even in John Cage music the dynamics between chance and the composer's decisions were never smoothed once for all over, since nobody can put himself completely apart from what's doing. Cage attempts were not related to let chance rules over creativity, but trying to soften his own personal patterns. Those are devices.

In Abdelnour/Munthe duo, it is more evident that the idea of 'pure sound' - almost 'without the musician' - can lead to a very tight palette in the case of the young saxophonist - even if her blowing, since she is born in Lebanon, can be considered a highly poetic gesture, and to a guitar almost completely rubbed, smoothed and scratched, at risk of facing at a music composed only by a flow of things. 

Coming back a little to what I listened in the last months in order to compile a label profile for the Istanbul-based re:konstruKt for All About Jazz, the game is completely different here. Listen to Sabrina Siegel playing guitar with rocks to see how she's really articulating a personal language. But more than creating useless comparisons and boundaries between different 'schools', I'd rather like to point at the fact that creating a proper language, making it evolve, and finding out the right devices to express truly yourself is something that requires an entire life in playing music. 

Now I want to lead the reader to think about that at this point in time, after the avant-garde movements of the '70s avoiding narratives and the romanthic idea of ego, the post-modern melting pot of the '80s avoiding the casting on the boundaries of one style, the breaking down of the boundaries between high and low culture during the '90s and the beginning of the new Century, part of today's most acclaimed artistic movements - this is mostly the rule in visual arts, but sometimes also in music - seems to completely avoid every kinf of relationship with aesthetics, but at risk of not developing with time their own personalities and languages. 

The previous generations and some of their contemporaries were constantly in touch with the given idea of an artistic shape - sometimes ironically, sometimes with a confrontational attitude, sometimes with a melancholic sense of loss, or putting the question on a different level, like the young John Zorn using sequences of events in order to think about the nature of music processes in his first performances with objects and a chessboard-like table, being so involved in a dynamic process of quest for their own identity. 

I'm not expressing a negative opinion. As Skaset, even young Moe in her solo set expressed at the best level a physical approach melting her music with the performer in her. And, even if this is not per se a personal statement, it means, at least, a direct involvement. While listening close - phisically I mean, on my own seat - to both the aforementioned performances, the idea of interaction is - more evident in the case of Skaset and Moe - present. I'd love to see a single performance by both Abdelnour and Munthe, that began his career with Mats Gustaffson in 1986, just to see if even in their own case, being alone can lead them to a better level of self expression than while interplaying.

While taking my time, I report of the last Saturday's performance. Z'EV's acoustic set don't suffer in avoiding any electronic processing. His work as a performer began in 1969, since then Z'EV is responsible for being a pioneer of the so-called Industrial movement in the US, and his artistic development involved performance art, a deep and constant study of modal-wave patterns emerging from vibrating surfaces - led him to the concept of cine-cussion, very approximately translitterated in kinetic percussions, to audio/visual poems, to sonic events related to the Indian mandalas, to the study of permutation and computer generation of phrases, making of him one of the most interesting and accomplished composers of the history of American avant-garde music.


John Butcher and Martin Brandlmayr
Near Sunday's noon, at LUX/Electra, "Soldier of the Road", the movie in which Bernard Josse portrayed Peter Broetzmann, showed a piece of history of European improvised music through the images, sounds and words of one of his most important forerunners. 

Released shortly after my long interview with him, the movie is beautifully shot by Gérard Rouy, a professional photographer and journalist (one of his essays was feeding a beautiful book related to Eric Dolphy and issued in Italy in 2005 as companion of a seminar dedicated to the American multi-instrumentalist, while some of his pictures are available on Mike Heffley's "Norther Sun, Southern Moon: Europe's Reinvention of Jazz"). After a selection of short movies provided by Sixpackfilm, in the afternoon, newly at The Nave, three of the most brilliant statements of the entire festival occurred. Since Evan Parker is profusely present on this blog, saying that his soprano performance was absolutely brilliant can be redundant.

But underlining, as also Peter Broetzmann pointed out in Josse's movie, how Evan Parker developed a practice of music involving a combination of a constant refining of techniques such as circular breathing and binaural pitches, and a complete control over his breathing apparatus, means since the direct involvement of both the listener and the performer with the music, to put his language apart from any mannerism and Parker himself directly at the level of the most important European composers, such as Karlheinz Stochausen - e.g.: Mantra for two pianos and two ring modulators. The proper indication for the younger musicians.

Martyn Brandlmayr matched John Butcher for a celebration for both their past involvement in Polwechsel and the most recent release on Butcher's Weight of Wax label, the "Scrutables" trio with Gino Robair and Derek Bailey recorded in 2000 but previously unreleased - a gorgeous trio performance, my strong advice is to pick it up at every cost. Both on soprano and tenor saxophone, Butcher idea and practice of music is more focused on embodying directly live electronics in first person, even if what's really noteworthy today is the extreme precision of Butcher approach to playing, tonight perfectly fitting with that of Brandlmayr.

Evan Parker
Robert Piotrowicz is the third act about which to talk appreciatively, for more than one reason: he is an experienced improviser and composer, involved in contemporary electroacoustic music, and founder of the label and related festival Musica Genera. In his solo performance, every sound seems to germinate from the previous one unexpectedly, but what's more important is the musician's consciousness of the dynamics involved in sound processing and in the relationships between sound and space. In this sense, Piotrowicz can be considered one of the many interesting reference points from which to evaluate the state of the art of today's electro-acoustic improvisation and electronic music composition.

Having been referred yet about the others Sunday's performances, we can go on with John Duncan, since the beginning of his career one of the most important, regarded, non-conformist and unclassifiable sound artist ever. Starting with short-waves, his research on the boudaries of self-perception soon developed involving performance art and installations with a unique, uncompromising and confrontational attitude, never at risk to be rethoric or untrue. But what we heard tonight, far from his past performances resulted in some way too much related to extra musical narrations to be effective. Duncan tried to create a multi-room space using voice and narration in what seemed an attempt to go back to basics, as many times happens when an artist is about to give life to a new expression. But the result was that of a didactic about the relationship between sound and space, so at the moment we hold with the curiosity to see where his next steps would lead him.