Tuesday, 31 January 2012

schrei 27 @ london_resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

Leaflet for "Schrei 27"
On April 2011, Davide Pepe, known for his work with David Tibet/Current 93, but also accomplished independent filmmaker, previewed at the Barbican's Silk Street Theatre Schrei 27, inspired by the same titled radio work of Diamanda Galàs and created in collaboration with the singer.The movie will be worldly premiered on April 13, 2012 in Mexico City's Auditorio Del SME. 

Schrei 27 was recorded originally in 1994 for a radio broadcast commissioned by the New American Radio and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (US). Schrei is a German word for shriek, and "is something that is involuntarily produced – it comes from the back of the throat – it's a sound that sounds extreme, it's a protracted sound that people would say sounds inhuman.  It’s of such terror that it’s pushed out of the body", as Diamanda Galàs explains in interviews. 

In Schrei 27 Artist statement, Galàs wrote  "The piece Schrei 27 is a very violent piece psychologically. If a person is isolated too long from society with false promises of release which constantly are presented to demoralize her/him, a suicidal impulse starts and builds that becomes so strong that the day may be spent looking for ways to kill oneself."

Having as main issue torture in institutionalisation, and with the voice as the subject tortured, the work, subsequently issued by Mute on record along with Schrei X, a 1996 live performance at the NYC's Knitting Factory staged in complete darkness and in front of five microphones, Schrei 27 was finally developed as a quadrophonic installation in 2007, touring Spain and Canary Island.

Davide Pepe, "Little Boy" (2004)
Final act of a feverish period in which the San Diego-born singer put on record, since the 1990s, as diverse works as the vocal part of the performances Plague Mass and Vena Cava, the collection of gospel and blues The Singer, and the collaboration with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones The Sporting Life, the two versions of Schrei are the final and, for the moment, her most extreme avant garde statement.

Even if breaking Galàs' career in pieces just to have a chronological articulation would be superficial, it is also true that between Schrei and 2003's Defixiones: Will and Testament on the Armenian genocide, Diamanda Galàs released and toured mostly with song cycles, leading to records as Malediction and Prayer, La Serpenta Canta and Guilty Guilty Guilty, while working on still unissued projects as Insekta and Nekropolis - see her 2003 interview with Edward Batchelder The Politics of Disquiet for further details. 

"I have had a dream of the voice as a protagonist, - says Diamanda Galàs in an interview with Leslie Deree - as a horrific vocal spine to a black screen of flickering images.  I’ve wanted to do this for years, 20 if not more.  And when I saw Davide’s film Little Boy I grabbed his hand and asked him to do Schrei.  We discussed the idea that people should see what constitutes the singing of these sounds - the ribcage, the vocal chord.

Diamanda Galàs, "Schrei 27"
A few times doctors have asked if they could see how the vocal chords work – to conduct a recording made with a rubber tube down my throat making the sounds I make. This is important.  It explains why the voice is at the center – it’s ring modulated, distorted, delayed." 

The visual part of Schrei 27 was developed by Davide Pepe. "I followed the sound vibrations to make the light and movement of the body follow Diamanda's voice perfectly. The sound part of Schrei 27 appeared as a film to me from the first time I heard it. [...]

After this first step we started to inspire each other, adding new stuff each time inside the film - Diamanda's paintings, my sounds, Robert Knoke and Jim Provenzano’s photos of Diamanda, Dave Hunt’s sounds and mix of a part of the work and so on.

Each time one of us was suggesting something there was a new addition from the other part. [...] I should say what is for me, the film Schrei 27, I would define it as just an incredible short circuit between Diamanda and me." 

Since during last 2011 Diamanda Galàs worked also with Soviet dissident artist Vladislav Shabalin for "Aquarium", a sound installation inspired by the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we expect for further, interesting developments in this new direction.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

aidan baker + nadja @ london _ resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

On February, 28 Important Records will release Excision, a double CD featuring eight tracks, whose lenght is from 10 to 23 minutes, taken from various splits or vynil-only releases of Nadja, the 'ambient-metal',  'ambient-doom', or 'metal-gaze' project of Aidan Baker (guitar, vocals, drums programming, piano, woodwinds) and Leah Buckareff (bass, vocals). 

Now Nadja is committed in a Japanese tour with label mates Vampillia - the 'brutal orchestra' coming from Osaka, the same city that gave birth to the Boredoms exactly 30 years ago - while in March the duo will tour through Europe - no dates in Uk still, even if I asked Aidan to keep me updated on the subject.

Releasing - even not for the first time - for a label whose roster features composers Eliane Radigue, noiser Merzbow, Makoto Kawabata's Acid Mothers Temple extreme psychedelia, sound artist Christina Kubisch and improvisers such as The 13th Assembly [my concert review here] means that it's time, for the now Berlin-based duo, to become recognised outside of the boundaries of such sub-genres as 'shoegaze' or 'metal' by a larger audience as one of the most interesting projects of experimental music you would be able to listen to today.

Aidan Baker is born in Toronto (Ontario, CA), in 1974. A musician classically trained in flute, self-taught on guitar, drums, and various other instruments, he started playing electrict guitar influenced by the likes of Caspar Brotzmann, Glenn Branca and Michael Gira, under his own name and in bands such as Nadja, Whisper Room, Infinite Light Ltd., Adoran, ARC and Mnemosyne.

Composer at the same times for The Penderecki String Quartet, The Riga Sinfonietta, and The Monday Morning Singers, his pieces for guitar are built layer upon layer around the script of stretched sabbathian riffs becoming long sheets of sound obtained in an improvised manner through pedals and effects; the result can be put side by side with Painkiller, Scorn, Sunn O))), Boris, Wolves in the Throne Room, while Aidan has the same makings of Christian Fennesz, Oren Ambarchi, Kevin Drumm or David Daniell.

In fact, the music of Aidan Baker is the result of a careful cross-pollination and sometimes the various niche's listeners found out themselves uneasy with an artist that doesn't love to step back between the boundaries: 

"all the categories and sub-categories are pretty ridiculous and I find it quite bizarre how people seem prone to ghetto-izing themselves [...] I try to incorporate different categories because I think that makes things more interesting... that said, my Nadja material is probably the least cross-pollinating, although it's not exactly "classic" doom metal (I've often had comments from metalheads that it's "too weird").

To make a distinction between "doom" and "drone" metal, you might say that drone is more experimental, in that it utilizes more of a minimalist mandate -- very little movement or variation, repetition, simple polyphonies -- within a maximalist sound. I think drone metal is comparable to some contemporary classical composers like Avro Pärt or Henyrk Górecki, except that one uses guitars and drums instead of strings (or whatever other traditional instruments)."
Aidan Baker interviewed by James Hoerner

While Baker's music can be generally described as somewhere in between post-rock, ambient, electronic and contemporary music, his different projects reflects his attitude beyond schemes and boundaries. Mnemosyne is a space-rock trio, ARC is dedited to improvised and experimental music, while Nadja is more keen on drones.

"I originally formed Nadja a solo, studio-based project in 2003 to explore the heavier, noiser side of drone music (compared to the more ambient, mellower music I make under my own name). Leah joined on bass in 2005 to bring the project out of the studio and perform live. [...] My Akai Headrush looping pedal is pretty integral to my sound. But as much as I rely on pedals, it's technique, not technology that should make the musician. 

[...] [Me and Leah] record in our home studio on a laptop, previously using Cubase but we recently switched to Logic (though we're still trying to figure out how the work the program). We generally record live and use the computer mainly for arranging and mixing and not for generating or effecting sounds."
- Aidan Baker interviewed by Amber Crain

Since 2003, the band has issued about 50 releases on cdr, vynil, 7'' through various labels - Deserted Factory, Nothingness, Alien8, etc. Sometimes the old material is reissued, either remastered or completely rearranged.

The tracks included on the new double Excision come from different recordings spanning from 2007 through 2010: the two versions of Autosomal are taken from the Bodycage Lp issued on Equation in 2007, while Kitsune (Foxdrone) is from 2008's Kodjak/Nadja on Denovali and the last Clinging to the Edge of the Sky was originally on a Vendetta/Adagio 12".

The tracks on the first CD, instead, are all coming from 2008 releases: the opening Jornada del Muerto from Trinity (Die Stadt), Perichoresis from Trinitarian (Important Rec.), Spahn from Tumpisa (Accident Prone), Kriplyana (Melted & Refrozen Snow That Looks Blue In Early Morning) from Magma to Ice (Fario). 

On Jan., 17, Robotic Empire released Baker's new solo effort The Spectrum of Destruction. Another double Cd, but featuring 97 tracks and 18 drummers on them: Mac McNeily (The Jesus Lizard), Ted Parsons (Swans, Godflesh, Jesu, Prong, etc.), David Dunnett (Ca Va Mal), Brandon Valdivia (Picastro), Richard Baker (ARC), Victor Cirone, Jakob Thiesen (Whisper Room, Nadja), Thor Harris (The Angels of Light, Shearwater, Swans), Geoff Summers (Batillus), Alessandro Curvaia (Shora), Simon Scott (Slowdive), Steven Hess (Locrian, Panamerican), Bruno Dorella (OvO), H. Walker (Kerretta), Andrew Crawshaw, Kevin Micka (Animal Hospital), Phil Petrocelli (Jesu, Great Falls, Grey Machine) were asked to provide drum loops over which Baker would have been able to play guitar and bass. 

Conceived as a record in which the listener is encouraged to shuffle through the tracks, the music is at the opposite of Nadja releases. "I wanted to try something big - a large scale project - that would take advantage, challenge, and/or make fun of technology (ipods, random/shuffle feature) and the way people now listen to music. [...]

I had initially intended The Spectrum of Distraction to strictly adhere to this [Aidan talks about the practice he called 'Xenochrony', partly coming from Frank Zappa's Shut Up 'N' Play yer Guitar, based on a random juxtaposition of independently recorded tracks], but as I received material from the various drummers, I thought it would be more interesting (or perhaps just listenable) to approach randomness within the album/songs itself, rather than the instrumentation." - Interview with Der Post Zum Rock

As various as a double CD featuring 97 tracks from less than 30 seconds to about 3 minutes can be, The Spectrum of Distraction reflects possibly Aidan's purpose to match against the solidifying of the music into formulas. 

At the same time, it's really interesting that his way of relating to both the composition and the listening of his work is the same a sound artist like Achim Wollscheid uses, projecting softwares in order to obtain a random generation of sound and light, and giving the listener, on CD, the opportunity to shuffle through tracks. The forthcoming Japan tour with Vampillia - and their March 2012 release The Primitive World - reflects Aidan's attitude towards studying new devices in order to renew and refurbish his music. 

Tour Dates currently available

nadja w/ vampillia japan tour 2012
28-01-12: Shibuya O-Nest, Tokyo, JP
29-01-12: Unagidani Sunsui, Osaka, JP
01-02-12: Club Quatro, Hiroshima, JP
02-02-12: Voodoo Lounge, Fukuoka, JP
03-02-12: Wakayama, Rub Luck Cafe, JP
05-02-12: Soup, Tokyo, JP

aidan baker w/ A-Sun Amissa
15-02-12: West Germany, Berlin, DE
16-02-12: Astrostube, Hamburg, DE
17-02-12: Christuskirke, Bochum, DE
18-02-12: (H)ear, Heerlen, NL
19-02-12: DB's, Utrecht, NL
20-02-12: Waggon, Offenbach, DE
21-02-12: Komma, Esslingen, DE
23-02-12: L'inventaire, Le Mans, FR
24-02-12: L'espace B, Paris, FR
25-02-12: Le Plané Ari Home, Wanquetin, FR

nadja w/ off the international radar
14-03-12: NK, Berlin, DE
15-03-12: Markthalle, Hamburg, DE
17-03-12: Vera, Groningen, NL
18-03-12: Magasin4, Brussels, BE
19-03-12: tba, Ghent, BE
20-03-12: Les Instants Chavires, Paris, FR
21-03-12: Allones, Le Mans, FR
23-03-12: Mix'art Mryrs, Toulouse, FR
24-03-12: L'Embobineuse, Marseilles, FR
28-03-12: Klub Place, Rijeka, HR
29-03-12: Rhiz, Vienna, AT
30-03-12: Kafe Kult, Munich, DE

Saturday, 21 January 2012

history of avant garde theatre [pt. 1] @ london_resonance

1. Antonin Artaud ["Pour en finir avec le judgement de dieu"] and Carmelo Bene ["Majakovskij"]

words _ Gian Paolo Galasi

Antonin Artaud
“Every real effigy has a shadow which is its double; and art must falter and fail from the moment the sculptor believes he has liberated the kind of shadow whose very existence will destroy his repose. Like all magic cultures expressed by appropriate hieroglyphs, the true theater has its shadows too, and, of all languages and all arts, the theater is the only one left whose shadows have shattered their limitations. From the beginning, one might say its shadows did not tolerate limitations. Our petrified idea of the theater is connected with our petrified
idea of a culture without shadows, where, no matter which way it turns, our spirit encounters only emptiness, though space is full. 

“All writing is garbage. People who come out of nowhere to try and put into words any part of what goes on in their minds are pigs. ” (Antonin Artaud, from "The theatre and its double")

After the end of the II World War, the French radio attended to recast all the abolished voices of the native culture of that time. One of them was the surrealist poet, playwriter, actor Antonin Artaud, that between Nov. 22 and 29, 1947, recorded for the French ORTF Radio the broadcasting of "Pour en finir avec le judgement de dieu" ["To have done with the judgement of god", with the minor 'g']. 

In Artaud intentions, the broadcast would have been, finally, an attempt to fully realize what he was seeking in his quest for a theatre that, in fact, advanced every form of contemporary performance art. 'Cruel', since refusing to get to an esthetic rendition and to go beyond the 'force' of the actions, while on the scene. The recordings involved Artaud's partner Paule Thévenin, actress Maria Casarés - featured as 'the death' in Jean Cocteau's "Orphée", his close friend and actor Roger Blin, plus xylophones as an introduction to the 'Tutuguri's [mexican indians - ndr] rite of the Black Sun', the centre of the text. 

Even if the broadcast is in some way the zenith of Artaud's researches on the subjects of theatre, ritual, and the difference between reality and representation, it is in many way incomplete, putting again the stress on the meaning of the words, focusing only here and there on the sound itself and of his vibrations. Only partially this passage from words to sounds becomes clear: when Roger Blin reaches some primeval rhythms or ritual chants, or when Maria Casarés stresses the vocals, moduling the frequences and so trying to orchestrate the sound of the voice itself. 

Carmelo Bene
"Theatre is a non-place, it is under cover from every history. It is beyond the evidence. The audience is a martyr - etymologically, 'witness'. But despite every effort, audience would never been able to tell about what he listened to, what possessed it in its surrendering" Carmelo Bene (1937 - 2002) was an Italian actor, playwriter, poet, movie director. He debuted in 1959 with a Caligola that was very appreciated by Albert Camus himself. 

Close friend and also a collaborator of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze - that gratified the actor with some beautiful pages from the second volume of his L'image-temps, and then wrote with him an entire book, Superpositions - and deep connoisseur of Pierre Klossowski, an intellectual at the border of official French culture but a pupil of Rainer Maria Rilke - Klossowski's mother was in a relationship with the poet - and of André Gide, Carmelo Bene was at the crossroads of the most important undercurrents of the 'alternative' culture of the 20th Century. 

Influenced by Nietzsche and structuralism, by the paintings of Francis Bacon and by James Joyce's Ulysses, in 1960 - and then again until the 5th edition in 1980 - he took the poems of Vladimir Majakovskij, the Russian revolutionary poet, as the starting point to his studies on voice, on voiding words from its meaning, and on using the voice itself as a full orchestra. 

Helped for the music initially by Sylvano Bussotti, and subsequently by his contemporary Gaetano Giani Luporini, Bene's quest for a theatre that goes beyond the meaning - representing the ego, betraying so his deep insights in Eastern traditions, but also the aesthetics in art - in 'Majakovskij' passes through the stretching of the dynamics and possibilities of the voice, emphasizing the words as a mix of gestures and phonetic elements. 

Through the years, Bene added to the 'theatre of the phoné' ideas taken from both structuralism and Nietzsche's philosophy about time. The result was a theatre in which every action were obstructed by every sort of empasse - Lorenzaccio - and in which an iconoclastic relationship with the image of the theatre itself pushed him to take some classics - Shakespear's Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III and Othello - rewriting the texts so to get rid of some elements, displacing or stretching distinguishing marks of the dramas in order to distort the original meaning, leaving only a score of gestures rhythmically conducted through a scheme reminiscent of Gilles Deleuze's in his 'Difference and repetition'

So in his Othello as an example, Jago is jealously in love with Othello himself - but without any reference to homosexuality, while Desdemona's handkerchief becomes bigger and bigger turning into a net preventing the assassination - suspension of the tragic; in his Hamlet, the prince of Denmark wants only to go to Paris with an actress - instead of playing with her the death of his father, transforming the famous 'to be or not to be' into 'to have or not to have', while Desdemona dresses as a lay nun just to be constantly slapped and smacked - out of eros and into the obscene; Macbeth and his lady, finally, are making their bed with bloody blankets that leave no traces on the bed himself.

"Now's the time to really start and have confidence with words. I don't mean 'the Word', as in 'the Gospel', but 'words'. Language fuck with you. It drills you. Language pierce you and you don't even notice. You spit on Einstein, on the best Freud, on the beyond of the principles of pleasure. You take up and clap the obvious, and made a prick out of it, in return of yours. [...] Art is piping, it is the will of self-espression." -- Carmelo Bene

"Being a stranger, but in your own language. Stuttering, stammering within the language itself, not only with the words. Bene would add: talking to yourself, but in the middle of the marketplace. Stuttering usually is a disorder of the language, but stuttering the language is something different. It means to impose to the language, to all the inner part of the language, phonologicals, syntacticals, semanticals, the plotting of a continuous variation [...] being a stranger in its own language ... It doesn't mean to talk as an Irish or a Rumenian talking French [...], it is dictating to the language, since we're talking plainly and soberly, the line of variation that will make out of everyone a stranger in its own language; or, out of a foreign language, our own language; or, out of our own language, a permanent bilinguism for our own extraneousness".

Antonin Artaud, Pour en finir avec le judgement de dieu [Sub Rosa, 1996]
Carmelo Bene, Il teatro laboratorio Majakovskij e Garcia Lorca [LP RCA Edizioni letterarie, 1962, out of print]
Carmelo Bene, Carmelo Bene - Majakovskij [Double LP Fonit Cetra, 1980, out of print]

Antonin Artaud, 'The theatre and its double' - Grove Press, 1994
Gilles Deleuze, 'Cinema 2: The Time-Image' - University of Minnesota Press, 1989
Carmelo Bene Gilles Deleuze, 'Superpositions' - Les Editions De Minuit, 1979

Thursday, 12 January 2012

sons d'hiver 2012 @ london resonance

words + photos _ gian paolo galasi

Last year I came to Vitry-Sur-Seine just to see Wadada Leo Smith and Gunter 'Baby' Sommer playing together. This first recognition culminated some months ago with my inteview with the trumpet player in Bologna during the AngelicA festival in May. The concert at the Theatre Jean Vilar was followed by a non completely satisfying performance of the Steve Coleman project titled 'Lingua Franca' [my reportage of both concerts in Italian for the webmagazine Elapsus, where you can access also to complete video footage of both the perforances].

Those two concerts were part of the 20th editions of the Sons D'Hiver festival, this year starting on Jan., 27 until Feb., 18 in different venues around the city of Paris. As every year, Sons D'Hiver will deal with the presentation of unedited concerts along with panel discussions and movies. For a complete view of the festival, you can check the full program of the concerts here.

The festival is connotated by some tributes (last year was the turn of Miles Davis and the 'blacksploitation' movie director Melvin Van Peebles). In this edition, Willie Dixon will be recognized as the sound scuptor and innovator he really was with a couple of concerts. Wadada Leo Smith and his band Organic will traslate the lexicon of the 'electric' Miles in our century leading us to a question: there is a relationship between Leo Smith, Willie Dixon and Miles Davis? 

Wadada Leo Smith and Gunther Baby Soemmer, 2011
For sure, and it is called spirituality, even if can be difficult to talk about it today: but while Wadada Leo Smith put in constant relationship his music with symbols, and a research for a ritualistic relationship between sound and space - and time, I would add - even if avoiding every reference to the blues as a musical style, but being so close to te source, the performance by Elliott Sharp and his quartet with Eric Mingus and Tracie Morris on voices, Melvin Gibbs on bass and Don McKenzie on drums, will emphasize how much Dixon identified himself and his music, even the most abstract, with the blues ("I am the blues").

Some days before, William Parker will present his work "How the World Changed It Self". Following one of his last rivers of inspiration leading him to blend together composition, improvisation and ethnic music - as on 2007 'Double Sunrise over Neptune' - with an ensemble featuring Mola Sylla on chant, mbira and doson 'ngoni, Sangeeta Bandhyopadhyay on chant, Bill Cole (double reeds, flutes), Rob Brown (alto), Klaas Hekman (bass saxophone), Cooper-Moore (percussions, piano, home-made instruments) and Hamid Drake (drums), Parker is now exploring another facet of his 'Universal Tonality' concept.

Other interesting acts will be Rob Mazurek's Sao Paulo Underground with Pharoah Sanders and the duets between Cooper-Moore and William Parker, pianists Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer, tenorist Archie Shepp and pianist Joachim Kuhn, but the program is really full of surprises, as the possibly interesting tribute to Duke Ellington made by the Benoit Delbecq - disciple of Alan Silva, Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Coleman and close collaborator of Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron.

Photos from "Sons D'Hiver", Vitry-Sur-Seine, 2011

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

sam rivers @ london resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

When I read about the departure of Sam Rivers (September 25, 1923 – December 26, 2011) I do not wanted to write about him at first sight. The reason was my previous short essays about the loft era on my blog Complete Communion, and more than that, the difficulty in writing something short about an entire life devoted to music - not only his, but the music of an entire generation of creative musicians - avoiding common topics, repetitions, and lack of a close examination.

But after the article I issued yesterday on Stefano Scodanibbio, I felt the urge of putting some short notes on a musician that was more than a symbol for an entire generation that chose to deal directly with music more than becoming an institution, and that was one of the true animators of an entire, and still avoided - a complete study on the subject is still to come after 30 years - 'movement', or so. I want to start something more focused on Rivers himeslf here, while reproposing what I was writing about the 'loft era' some months ago, when I was still residing in Italy [see the first link on this article].

Born in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1923, and subsequently residing in Boston, Massachussets, where he studied composition at the local Conservatory in 1947, Sam Rivers started playing with Quincy Jones and Tadd Dameron amongst others. A soprano and tenor saxophonist, flutist, bass clarinetist and pianist, in 1959 he started playing with the then 13 years old prodigy drummer Tony Williams, collaborating also briefly with the second Miles Davis quintet, after the departure of John Coltrane and before Wayne Shorter's arrival.

With the Blue Note label, Rivers gave shape to his first masterpieces. Blue Note at the time tried to give life with Rudy Van Gelder to a kind of 'third line' between his classic modernist approach to jazz and the then rising 'new thing' wave. Sam Rivers, musicians as vibist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Andrew Hill, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bassist Richard Davis, multireedist Eric Dolphy, were more or less completely involved in this artistic operation. As issued on AllAboutJazz Rivers profile:

"Rivers's music is rooted in bebop, but he is an adventurous player, adept at free jazz. The first of his Blue Note albums, Fuchsia Swing Song, is widely regarded as a masterpiece of an approach sometimes called “inside-outside”. The performer frequently obliterates the explicit harmonic framework (”going outside”) but retains a hidden link so as to be able to return to it in a seamless fashion. Rivers brought the conceptual tools of bebop harmony to a new level in this process, united at all times with the ability to “tell a story” which Lester Young had laid down as a benchmark for the jazz improviser."

As a true creative figure, Sam Rivers was a real collector of different energies and branches of the jazz music of his time. But with his Studio RivBea based in Bond Street, he began the so-called 'loft era', that started in 1972, with the counter-festival to George Wein's Newport in New York, and ended in 1983 approximately with the triumph of the Reaganomics after melting together (not always under Rivers' direction or responsibility) jazz, minimalism, avant garde, contemporary music, pop, no wave, post punk, disco, poetry, ethnic instruments.

Striving for taking control over shows and records, and to manage an independent career, mixing different approaches and constantly rehearsing in order to be immediately ready to whatever session or concert available, and open to whatever melting of styles even outside the boundaries of strictly jazz and improvised music, the 'loft era' was the zenith of the spirit of the Big Apple and of its melting pot.

But even beyond the lofts, Sam Rivers continued to affirm his personal vision of music. Even with a label so strongly connotated as ECM, Rivers was able to paint a jazz "in wide strokes and bold colors". Take as an examle both Contrasts (1979) with AACM trombonist and composer George Lewis, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Thurman Barker, and the widely recognized masterpiece Conference of the Birds (ECM, 1973) issued under Holland's name and featuring the composer and reedist Anthony Braxton and bassist Barry Altschul. For a first recognition of Rivers' and the loft-era music, those records, the Blue Notes, and the 5-lps issued by Alan Douglas - the famous Jimi Hendrix producer - under the name of Wildflowers: Loft Jazz New York 1976, are part of the larger and more faithful picture of it all. Since the vast Rivers discography is still for the most part not reissued, readers can start consulting the Sam Rivers sessionography carefully compiled by Rick Lopez.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

stefano scodanibbio @ london_resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

Stefano Scodanibbio with Terry Riley - photo: Claudio Casanova
"Stefano Scodanibbio, a young but yet famous bass player with truly extraordinary qualities". This is what an Italian newspaper, "L'Unità", wrote on 1987 after a marathon of four hours, in which Scodanibbio played 28 pieces by 25 different composers.

Born in Macerata in 1956, he became famous in the 1980s since his repertoire on contrabass was made by compositions especially written for him by the likes of Iannis Xenakis, Vinko Globokar, Salvatore Sciarrino, before he became a long time collaborator of Luigi Nono and Giacinto Scelsi.

Not only a virtuoso, Scodanibbio was a true innovator on the instrument; he started studying contrabass with Fernando Grillo and composition with Fausto Rizzi and Salvatore Sciarrino. In 1983 he founded the review "Rassegna di Nuova Musica di Macerata", in order to promote and share the new tendencies of American and European contemporary music. At the same time he worked also on his compositions, like Six Studies for solo contrabass, Six Duos for all the possible combinations of the four bowed instruments, Concerto for contrabass, bows and percussions, while in 2004 he played for the first time his version of the XIV Sequenza by Luciano Berio, originally for cello.

Stefano Scodanibbio - Photo: Mauro Rocchi
In 1996 he started teaching regularly the bass at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse, while dedicating his time to a regular trio involving trumpeter Markus Stockhausen - son of the composer Karlheinz - and cellist Rohan De Saram. Between his many collaborations, the most important were the ones with the composer Terry Riley, coreographers and dancers like Virgilio Sieni, Patricia Kuypers and Hervé Diasnas, the poets Edoardo Sanguineti and Gian Ruggero Manzoni, and Giorgio Agamben, a philosopher disciple of Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault , that wrote the dramaturgy for Scodanibbio's musical theatre Il Cielo sulla Terra.

Between the many records disposables under his own name, one that can attract the curiosity of the hard-ons of improvised music is the 2010 release by the Italian label Die Schachtel "On Debussy's piano and ..." in which Scodanibbio and pianist Thollem McDonas improvised on schemes provided for the occasion by McDonas and recorded in Brive-La-Gaillard using a piano belonged to Claude Debussy, whose impressionistic music had an important and still mostly unrecognized influence on the improvised music coming from both the US and Europe.

Stefano Scodanibbio sadly disappeared today after a long and difficult desease in Cuernavaca, Mexico. His ashes will be spread on the gardens of Mexican residing composers Ana Lara - that also wrote an article after his death on the newspaper "La Jornada" - and Julio Estrada. But for all the true music lovers, this can be an occasion to fully immerse into CDs issued by the likes of Wergo, Mode, col legno, New Albion, Stradivarius, Dischi di Angelica, Ricordi.