Reviews that mention Thomas Lehn

November 7, 2019

Leimgruber/Demierre/Phillips & Lehn

Willisau
Jazz Werkstatt JW 191

By Ken Waxman

Adding another voice to an established trio is a risk. But as these extended performances from saxophonist Urs Leingruber and pianist Jacques Demierre, both Swiss, and expatriate American bassist Barre Phillips indicate, the inclusion of German Thomas Lehn’s analog synthesizer illuminate new tinctures in the improvisational picture the others perfected over nearly two decades. This ever-shifting continuum of electronic judders not only enhances this program, but also allows the creation of parallel duos. For the first time, low-pitched string bowing is matched with keyboard strums and cadenzas while altissimo reed sputters are backed by wave form grinding. Throughout partners are changed as in a decidedly un-square dance. MORE

March 23, 2019

Lehn/Schmickler

Neue Bilder
Mikroton Recordings CD 60

Applying facility and judgment to an aural panorama of textures constructed from the output of two characteristic electronic instruments are German noise-appraisers Marcus Schmickler, with a specially programmed computer and Thomas Lehn with a singular analogue synthesizer. Over the course of two lengthy improvisations they combine to wrench seemingly infinite unique sounds from their instruments, while suggesting logical timbral dissertations. That disruptions as well as discourses occur is a function of the uncharted paths followed. But immersion in the journey is more than rewarded. MORE

December 21, 2017

Guelph Jazz Festival

September 13-17, 2017
By Ken Waxman

Striding confidentially towards its 2018 silver anniversary, this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) was invigorated with choice concerts throughout this Ontario college town. There were artists from the United States and Europe, yet two of the notable performances were from Canadian bands. Underlying their set at the Silence arts space September 15 with processed whooshes, pulses and hums, the Montreal-based members of Jane and the Magic Banana (JMB) found that sweet spot where punk attitude, tremolo oscillations and free experimentation locked together. Consisting of guitarist Sam Shalabi, electric bassist Alexandre St-Onge and drummer Michel F. Côté, all of whom used electronic processing JMB set was characterized by quick manipulation of a continuous drone which never sacrificed narrative for effects. Two nights later at the Cooperators Hall (CH), River Run Centre the Medham quartet playing a bracing set which nearly overwhelmed with ingenuity while adhering most closely to jazz conventions. With one dozen tunes given body by steady slaps or buzzing Arco from bassist Nicolas Caloia matched by the patterning groove from drummer Isaiah Ciccarelli, these two Montrealers, plus a third, growling baritone saxophonist Jason Sharp provided the backing and in Sharp’s rippling blasts, the challenge, to Vancouver-based violinist Josh Zubot’s slick, staccato horn-like sweeps. Dazzling as he swept or plucked his strings as the rhythm section output a connective beat, the violinist replied in kind to any sonic provocation from the others. MORE

November 11, 2016

Mats Gustafsson’ Peace & Fire

At Porgy & Bess
Trost Records TR 140

Keith Rowe/John Tilbury

enough still not to know

SOFA 548

Mopomoso Tour 2013

Making Rooms

Weekertoft 1-4

Barry Guy Blue Shroud Band Small Formations

Tensegrity

NotTwo MW938-2

Something In The Air: Multi-Disc Box Sets Offer Depth As Well As Quantity

By Ken Waxman

When a CD box of improvised music appears it customarily marks a critical occasion. So it is with these recent four-disc sets. One celebrates an anniversary tour by nine of London’s most accomplished improvisers. Another collects small group interactions in Krakow by musicians gathered to perform as an orchestra. A third is a souvenir of concerts celebrating Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson’s 50th birthday. Finally enough still not to know captures extended improvisations by pianist John Tilbury and table-top guitarist Keith Rowe, who have worked with one another on-and-off for 40 years. MORE

October 7, 2013

Malcolm Goldstein/Thomas Lehn

Sources
Tour de Bras DL #2

Various Artists

Just Not Cricket: Three Days of Improvised Music in Berlin

Ni-Vu-Ni-Connu nvnc lp001/004

Erik Carlsson & All Stars

Swedish azz Volume 1 & Volume 2

NotTwo MW 901-1A/ NotTwo MW 901-1B

Thomas Lehn, Michel F. Côté, Éric Normand

Invisible

Tour de Bras DL #1

Something In the Air: Good Music Comes In Many Forms and Formats

By Ken Waxman

Standardization is a thing of the past when it comes to recorded music and listeners who get too far ahead of or behind the curve are likely to miss interesting sounds. Just as the production of movies didn’t cease with the acceptance of television, so the manufacture of LPs continued even as the CD became the format of the moment. As artisans continue to craft fine furniture despite the availability of mass-produced items, so too LPs are being created in limited quantities. This situation appears tailor-made for experimental sounds. Similarly since advanced players are often as impecunious as they are inventive, the ubiquity of the Internet means that some music is only sold through the Web. The option of not having to create a physical product is a boon for non-mainstream performers. MORE

October 7, 2013

Thomas Lehn, Michel F. Côté, Éric Normand

Invisible
Tour de Bras DL #1

Various Artists

Just Not Cricket: Three Days of Improvised Music in Berlin

Ni-Vu-Ni-Connu nvnc lp001/004

Erik Carlsson & All Stars

Swedish azz Volume 1 & Volume 2

NotTwo MW 901-1A/ NotTwo MW 901-1B

Malcolm Goldstein/Thomas Lehn

Sources

Tour de Bras DL #2

Something In the Air: Good Music Comes In Many Forms and Formats

By Ken Waxman

Standardization is a thing of the past when it comes to recorded music and listeners who get too far ahead of or behind the curve are likely to miss interesting sounds. Just as the production of movies didn’t cease with the acceptance of television, so the manufacture of LPs continued even as the CD became the format of the moment. As artisans continue to craft fine furniture despite the availability of mass-produced items, so too LPs are being created in limited quantities. This situation appears tailor-made for experimental sounds. Similarly since advanced players are often as impecunious as they are inventive, the ubiquity of the Internet means that some music is only sold through the Web. The option of not having to create a physical product is a boon for non-mainstream performers. MORE

March 26, 2013

6ix

Almost Even Further
Leo Records CD LR 644

Urs Leimgruber/Roger Turner

The Pancake Tour

Relative Pitch RPR 1007

Maintaining an exceptional level of consistency playing improvised music demands empathic collaborators as well as chops and commitment. That’s why so many improvisers maintain long-standing relationships with a select group of fellow sound experimenters. Paradoxically, these same musicians often revel in the challenges of playing in new combinations.

Take Swiss soprano and tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber for instance. The Pancake Tour is a duo outing with an experienced associate: British drummer Roger Turner. Turner and Leimgruber are also present on Almost Even Further, except that on the latter disc the drummer and American cellist Okkyung Lee are new elements introduced to the 6ix group. They add their textures alongside those of other founding members, pianist Jacques Demierre and vocalist Dorothea Schurch from Switzerland and German synthesizer player Thomas Lehn, all of whom Leimgruber has worked with for at least the last decade. MORE

August 11, 2012

Thomas Lehn/Carl Ludwig Hübsch/Philip Zoubek/Franz Hautzinger

LHZ + H
Monotype Records mono044

Suboko & Hübsch & Spieth

k-horns

Schraum 14

Minimalist soundscapes which position uniquely exceptional brass timbres with equally anomalous tones from other instruments are the congruent points of these CDs. Additionally while both discs were subjected to post-production re-mixing, it’s the initial context which makes each appealing.

Another connection is that Köln-based tubaist Carl Ludwig Hübsch is present on both sessions, twisting his valves and focused breaths into equally atypical timbres. Although he actually demonstrates more expected tuba qualities on LHZ + H than k-horns. Hübsch, whose experience encompasses everything from improvising as part of an all-horns trio to section work and solos in large, more formally constituted ensembles, is joined on LHZ + H by three Teutonic sound explorers. Vienna-based Franz Hautzinger, whose quarter-tone trumpet with delay is one of the CD’s salient features, is joined by German synthesizer player Thomas Lehn who now lives in Vienna, plus the prepared piano of Dutch-born, Köln-resident Philip Zoubek. MORE

January 30, 2012

Scott Fields/Multiple Joyce Orchestra

Moersbow OZZO
Clean Feed CF 236 CD

Having upped the number of musicians involved as well as the scope of his creative strategies, the newest orchestral work by American guitarist Scott Fields involves 23 players – plus him conducting – interpreting one, nearly-14-minute, and another four-part, hour-long composition. The result, recorded live in the guitarist’s adopted hometown of Köln, is satisfyingly striking, with the proviso that subsequent performances likely sounded different, considering that that the unique physical gestures used by Fields and the musicians to communicate are drawn from the American Manual Alphabet. MORE

November 20, 2011

The Shift

Songs From Aipotu
Leo Records CD LR 599

Ttiziana Bertoncini/Thomas Lehn

Horsky Park

Another Timbre at40

Bringing unprecedented invention to his analog synthesizer playing, Thomas Lehn has, since the early 1990s, demonstrated that this mass of tubes, patch cables and switches can be as effective a vehicle for improvisation as his original keyboard – the piano. In varied configurations, including the band Konk Pack and duos with the likes of saxophonist John Butcher or drummer Gerry Hemingway, he has repeated demonstrated that the electronic box is capable of a lot more than sonic coloration. MORE

November 20, 2011

Ttiziana Bertoncini/Thomas Lehn

Horsky Park
Another Timbre at40

The Shift

Songs From Aipotu

Leo Records CD LR 599

Bringing unprecedented invention to his analog synthesizer playing, Thomas Lehn has, since the early 1990s, demonstrated that this mass of tubes, patch cables and switches can be as effective a vehicle for improvisation as his original keyboard – the piano. In varied configurations, including the band Konk Pack and duos with the likes of saxophonist John Butcher or drummer Gerry Hemingway, he has repeated demonstrated that the electronic box is capable of a lot more than sonic coloration. MORE

October 17, 2010

Konk Pack

The Black Hills
GROB 962 LC 10292

Heading towards their 15th anniversary in 2012, the German-British trio Konk Pack continues to be the gold standard against which any band of electro-acoustic improvisers must be measured.

Characterized by a unity in conception and creation the tracks on this exceptional CD were actually recorded in both Houston and Wuppertal, Germany about a year apart. That they flow together so seamlessly can be attributed to the skill and technical smarts of the band members consisting of German analogue synthesizer player Thomas Lehn, plus, from the United Kingdom, percussionist Roger Turner and Tim Hodgkinson on lap steel guitar, electronics and clarinets. MORE

July 3, 2010

Densités Festival

Fresnes-en-Woëvre, France
October 23 to 25 2009

A rural French hamlet in the Lorraine countryside isn’t the setting you imagine for a world-class festival of unadulterated Electronic and Free Music. Yet the Densités Festival in Fresnes-en-Woëvre – population 500 – about 80 kilometres from Nancy, is that. During three days in late October, the 16th Edition presented a sonic banquet of unstoppable Free Jazz, minimalist improv, sound installations, electro-acoustic meetings, poetry recitations and interactions between instrumentalists and dancers. MORE

June 16, 2010

Speak Easy

Back Chats
Creative Sources CS 149 CD

Five Rooms

No Room for Doubt

Amirani Records AMRN 020

Although it’s the least expensive and most portable instrument, the human voice is usually the one most resistant to tessitura experimentation and the innovation of non-standard forms. Perhaps it’s because in most cultures strong, lyrical expression is celebrated and, with the possible exceptions of background harmonizing and so-called scat singing, improvising vocally but without forming words is regarded as eccentric. MORE

May 7, 2010

Bertrand Gauguet/Franz Hautzinger/Thomas Lehn

Close Up
MonotypeRec. mono024

Mural

Nectars of Emergence

SOFA 528

Colin Mclean/Andy Moor

Everything but the Beginning

Unsounds U17

Shaman

Nous percons les oreillesx

Ambiances Magnétiques AM 200 CD

Extended Play: VTO2010

By Ken Waxman

More an enhancement than a replication of Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), Toronto’s VTO2010 festival cherry picks some of FIMAV’s international performers, presenting them with invited Canadian musicians. As these CDs indicate, the improvisers are impressive no matter the location or formation. MORE

February 1, 2010

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

The Moment’s Energy
ECM 2066

John Butcher Group

Somethingtobesaid

Weight of Wax WOW 02

Now that a large portion of improvised music is deliberately moving further away from its swing-blues roots and into an accommodation with New music, a few far-sighted so-called classical festivals have made a place for improvisers. Tellingly, both these captivating CDs featuring ensembles performing large-scale compositions by significant British saxophonists, were commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. More importantly, neither work is a jazz-classical cameo, but expansive enough to allow the composers’ ideas to be figuratively painted on a larger canvas, using an extended sonic palate. MORE

February 1, 2010

John Butcher Group

Somethingtobesaid
Weight of Wax WOW 02

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

The Moment’s Energy

ECM 2066

Now that a large portion of improvised music is deliberately moving further away from its swing-blues roots and into an accommodation with New music, a few far-sighted so-called classical festivals have made a place for improvisers. Tellingly, both these captivating CDs featuring ensembles performing large-scale compositions by significant British saxophonists, were commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. More importantly, neither work is a jazz-classical cameo, but expansive enough to allow the composers’ ideas to be figuratively painted on a larger canvas, using an extended sonic palate. MORE

November 27, 2009

Leimgruber/Lehn

Lausanne
For4Ears CD 2072

Tom Hamilton/Bruce Eisenbeil

Shadow Machine

Pogus 21051-2

Detached from the not-so-tender blandishments and showy gimmickry of pop music, the synthesizer can be a highly pliable improvisational tool in the right hands – as these superlative duo sessions demonstrate.

Like any instrument used by a particular musician, it’s the individuality of the performer that angles sound towards the unexpected. Plus the autonomy implicit in Free Improv means that the synthesizer players here use their machines differently. New York-based Tom Hamilton’s program on Shadow Machine is more spatial, while Köln’s Thomas Lehn’s improvising on Lausanne is more spectral. MORE

November 27, 2009

Tom Hamilton/Bruce Eisenbeil

Shadow Machine
Pogus 21051-2

Leimgruber/Lehn

Lausanne

For4Ears CD 2072

Detached from the not-so-tender blandishments and showy gimmickry of pop music, the synthesizer can be a highly pliable improvisational tool in the right hands – as these superlative duo sessions demonstrate.

Like any instrument used by a particular musician, it’s the individuality of the performer that angles sound towards the unexpected. Plus the autonomy implicit in Free Improv means that the synthesizer players here use their machines differently. New York-based Tom Hamilton’s program on Shadow Machine is more spatial, while Köln’s Thomas Lehn’s improvising on Lausanne is more spectral. MORE

November 12, 2009

Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon

Ulrichsberg, Austria
April 30 –May 2, 2009

A site-specific performance that took into account the dimensions and machinery of a still-functioning 1853 linen factory; resounding interface between pulsating electronic and acoustic instruments; and a full-force finale involving a mid-sized band were among the notable performances at 2009’s Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon.

Remarkable as well as the consistently high quality of the 11 concerts that took place during the 23rd edition of this three-day festival, is the location: a farming and small manufacturing village of fewer than 7,000 people about 60 kilometres west of Linz, Austria. MORE

June 1, 2009

Aki Takase & The Good Boys

Live at Willisau Jazz Festival
Jazz Werkstatt JW 049

Alexander Von Schlippenbach

Friulian Sketches

psi 08.07

TOOT

Two

Another Timbre At14

Jan Roder

Double Bass

Jazzwerkstatt JW 037

Extended Play: Alexander Von Schlippenbach and his band mates

By Ken Waxman

One European jazz pacesetter since the late 1960s, German pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach’s groups showcase different aspects of his broad interests. Together for over 35 years, his trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens features improvisers attuned to each other’s thinking. Predating that, The Globe Unity Orchestra herds outstanding Continental soloists into cooperative big band arrangements. His Monk’s Casino quintet – filled out by German players about 25 years younger than Schlippenbach, 71 – offers a unique take on Thelonious Monk’s oeuvre. Its members also score on individual projects, like these CDs. MORE

June 1, 2009

Alexander Von Schlippenbach

Friulian Sketches
psi 08.07

TOOT

Two

Another Timbre At14

Jan Roder

Double Bass

Jazzwerkstatt JW 037

Aki Takase & The Good Boys

Live at Willisau Jazz Festival

Jazz Werkstatt JW 049

Extended Play: Alexander Von Schlippenbach and his band mates

By Ken Waxman

One European jazz pacesetter since the late 1960s, German pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach’s groups showcase different aspects of his broad interests. Together for over 35 years, his trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens features improvisers attuned to each other’s thinking. Predating that, The Globe Unity Orchestra herds outstanding Continental soloists into cooperative big band arrangements. His Monk’s Casino quintet – filled out by German players about 25 years younger than Schlippenbach, 71 – offers a unique take on Thelonious Monk’s oeuvre. Its members also score on individual projects, like these CDs. MORE

June 1, 2009

TOOT

Two
Another Timbre At14

Jan Roder

Double Bass

Jazzwerkstatt JW 037

Aki Takase & The Good Boys

Live at Willisau Jazz Festival

Jazz Werkstatt JW 049

Alexander Von Schlippenbach

Friulian Sketches

psi 08.07

Extended Play: Alexander Von Schlippenbach and his band mates

By Ken Waxman

One European jazz pacesetter since the late 1960s, German pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach’s groups showcase different aspects of his broad interests. Together for over 35 years, his trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens features improvisers attuned to each other’s thinking. Predating that, The Globe Unity Orchestra herds outstanding Continental soloists into cooperative big band arrangements. His Monk’s Casino quintet – filled out by German players about 25 years younger than Schlippenbach, 71 – offers a unique take on Thelonious Monk’s oeuvre. Its members also score on individual projects, like these CDs. MORE

June 1, 2009

Jan Roder

Double Bass
Jazzwerkstatt JW 037

Aki Takase & The Good Boys

Live at Willisau Jazz Festival

Jazz Werkstatt JW 049

Alexander Von Schlippenbach

Friulian Sketches

psi 08.07

TOOT

Two

Another Timbre At14

Extended Play: Alexander Von Schlippenbach and his band mates

By Ken Waxman

One European jazz pacesetter since the late 1960s, German pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach’s groups showcase different aspects of his broad interests. Together for over 35 years, his trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens features improvisers attuned to each other’s thinking. Predating that, The Globe Unity Orchestra herds outstanding Continental soloists into cooperative big band arrangements. His Monk’s Casino quintet – filled out by German players about 25 years younger than Schlippenbach, 71 – offers a unique take on Thelonious Monk’s oeuvre. Its members also score on individual projects, like these CDs. MORE

November 25, 2008

James Choice Orchestra

Live at Musik Triennale Köln
Leo CD LR 513

Bik Bent Braam

Extremen

BBB CD 10

Although saxophonist/clarinettist Frank Gratkowski and tubaist Carl Ludwig Hübsch are each an integral part of both these innovative, large ensemble sessions, the CDs couldn’t be more divergent.

Extremen features the two-Köln-based players as part of Dutch pianist Michel Braam’s 13-piece Bik Bent Braam ensemble in concert playing 12 of the pianist’s compositions. Although the tunes are also orchestrated, using a combination of written and verbal cues plus hand signals and gestures, band members improvise both musically and physically. They can alter, re-direct and refocus the order and duration of the pieces, work out different harmonies and solo choices, plus unexpectedly introduce improvised material. MORE

November 25, 2008

Bik Bent Braam

Extremen
BBB CD 10

James Choice Orchestra

Live at Musik Triennale Köln

Leo CD LR 513

Although saxophonist/clarinettist Frank Gratkowski and tubaist Carl Ludwig Hübsch are each an integral part of both these innovative, large ensemble sessions, the CDs couldn’t be more divergent.

Extremen features the two-Köln-based players as part of Dutch pianist Michel Braam’s 13-piece Bik Bent Braam ensemble in concert playing 12 of the pianist’s compositions. Although the tunes are also orchestrated, using a combination of written and verbal cues plus hand signals and gestures, band members improvise both musically and physically. They can alter, re-direct and refocus the order and duration of the pieces, work out different harmonies and solo choices, plus unexpectedly introduce improvised material. MORE

November 20, 2008

Frédéric Blondy/Thomas Lehn

Obdo
Another Timbre at07

Audio editing and shading expand the canvas on which French pianist Frédéric Blondy and German analogue synthesizer player Thomas Lehn aurally paint resonating variations on many themes here. Although timbres from Blondy’s keyboard are routed through the mechanism of Lehn’s contraption, the resulting shading, dynamics and spectralism still depend on the acoustic prowess and control of both musicians.

Seamlessly melding a fragment of an earlier concert into “Pooq”, the performance, is sonically multi-hued. Stopping and slapping his instrument’s internal strings, Blondy also alternates external key-picking and note-chiming. Eventually his emphasis on crystalline single notes is spatially underscored by Lehn’s triggered pulsations and driven vibrations MORE

July 2, 2008

Sonic Geography: Mulhouse, France

For MusicWorks Issue #101
BY KEN WAXMAN

During late August when some streets in Mulhouse, France take on a decidedly other-directed character associated with the Jazz à Mulhouse (JAM) festival, it’s likely neither visitors nor locals realize the symbolic roots of the celebration, an integral part of the city since 1983.

Known as France’s Manchester, industry in this city of about 112,000 people in the Haut-Rhin region has been involved with the textile industry since 1746, when four locals founded the city’s first textile printing works. Annexed by France in 1798, Mulhouse was formerly a free republic associated with the Swiss Confederation. In the late 19th and early 20th century Mulhouse’s factories remained world leaders in the manufacture and marketing of printed cloth for both home and apparel, while students from around the world studied at the École nationale superieure des industries textiles. MORE

May 8, 2008

Konk Pack

Off Leash
GROB.654

Unquestionably living up to its onomatopoeic name with these crammed yet elastic pulsations, the Konk Pack trio proves once again with this concert performance why it is likely improv’s most accomplished electro-acoustic group. The trio consists of Köln-based synthesizer player Thomas Lehn, also a pianist; plus two Londoners: clarinetist/lap steel guitarist Tim Hodgkinson, a notated composer and co-founder of 1960s Art Rock band Henry Cow; plus percussionist Roger Turner, who over the years has collaborated with most British free musician from vocalist Phil Minton to saxophonist John Butcher. Most impressively, at no time during the throbbing, blistering textures that Konk Pack exposes on the single track here are empathy and enthusiasm sacrificed for electronically packaged formulae. MORE

January 15, 2008

Ken Waxman’s Top CDs for 2007

[In alphabetical order]
For CODA Issue 337

1. Muhal Richard Abrams, Vision Towards Essence Pi Recordings Pi23

2. Johannes Bauer/Thomas Lehn/Jon Rose, Futch Jazzwerkstatt JW 010

3. Bruce Eisenbeil Sextet, Inner Constellation Volume One. Nemu 007

4. Exploding Customer, At Your Service Ayler aylCD-063

5. Scott Fields Ensemble, Beckett Clean Feed CFO69 CD

6. Frank Gratkowski/Misha Mengelberg, Vis-à-vis Leo CD LR 476

7. François Houle, Evan Parker, Benoît Delbecq La Lumière de Pierres psi 07.02

8. Lucas Niggli Big Zoom, Celebrate Diversity Intakt CD 118 MORE

January 9, 2008

Jazz à Mulhouse gives a loving French kiss to Improvised music

By Ken Waxman
For CODA Issue 337

Impressive saxophone and reed displays were the focus of the 24th Edition of Jazz à Mulhouse in France in late August. Overall however, most of the 19 performances maintained a constant high quality. This may have something to do with the fact that unlike larger, flashier and more commercial festivals, Jazz à Mulhouse (JAM) is an almost folksy showcase for improvisation.

Located less than 20 minutes away by train from Basel, Switzerland, Mulhouse is a mid-sized city of 150,000 in eastern France long known as an industrial textile centre. Low-key, JAM is rather like the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), with better restaurants. MORE

January 6, 2008

Scott Fields Ensemble

We Were The Phliks
RogueArt ROG-007

Utilizing the textures available from one instrument which assumed its modern form sometime between the 10th and the 15th century and another 20th century invention considered antique because it’s merely analogue, guitarist Scott Fields has created an almost 70½-minute CD that’s as audacious as it is rewarding.

Naturally being improvised music, We Were The Phliks also depends on the interpretive skills of the four players as much as the graphical or conventional notation Fields uses for these four long pieces. A mixture of experiences and cultures, the players are Fields, the Chicago-born guitarist who has lived in Köln, Germany for the past few years; two German-born Köln residents: tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert and analogue synthesizer player Thomas Lehn; plus Xu Fengxia, a native of Shanghai, who now lives in Hövelhof and plays the guzheng, a large Chinese zither whose most familiar shape was established by the 15th century. MORE

October 31, 2006

Gratkowski/LehnPoore

Triskaidekaphobia
Leo CD LR 461

Oren Marshall
Introduction to the Story of Spedy Sponda/Part One: In a Silent Room
Slowfoot Records SLO 003

Pictorially the first CD here could be represented by a happy face; the second with a serious one. Each features the tuba – one of the world’s most maligned instruments – and each is illustrative of unique and memorable ways to extend the bulky axe’s timbres beyond its usual parameters.

Although Triskaidekaphobia is a trio disc featuring analogue synthesizer stylist Thomas Lehn and reedist Frank Gratkowski, both of Cologne, along with tubaist Melvyn Poore, the sonic spectrum on the other disc is just as large – perhaps larger. That’s because London-based tubaist Oren Marshall uses electronics and extensions to produce additional sound bites, performing on one track, for instance, on five different tubas simultaneously. MORE

October 31, 2006

Oren Marshall

Introduction to the Story of Spedy Sponda/Part One: In a Silent Room
Slowfoot Records SLO 003

Gratkowski/LehnPoore
Triskaidekaphobia
Leo CD LR 461

Pictorially the first CD here could be represented by a happy face; the second with a serious one. Each features the tuba – one of the world’s most maligned instruments – and each is illustrative of unique and memorable ways to extend the bulky axe’s timbres beyond its usual parameters.

Although Triskaidekaphobia is a trio disc featuring analogue synthesizer stylist Thomas Lehn and reedist Frank Gratkowski, both of Cologne, along with tubaist Melvyn Poore, the sonic spectrum on the other disc is just as large – perhaps larger. That’s because London-based tubaist Oren Marshall uses electronics and extensions to produce additional sound bites, performing on one track, for instance, on five different tubas simultaneously. MORE

December 5, 2005

Minton/Van Hove/Mattos/Blume

Axon
FMR

Activity Centre/Phil Minton
Activity Centre & Phil Minton
Absinth Records

Toot
One
SOFA

By Ken Waxman
December 5, 2005

He may not be as popular among pop-jazz fans as Jamie Cullum, Harry Connick or Kurt Elling, but no other male vocalist has recorded more experimental improv work over the past quarter century, then London’s Phil Minton, who turned 65 earlier this month.

At his age you’d expect the British vocalist to be a crooner in Chet Baker-Frank Sinatra mould or a rocker like his near contemporaries Mick Jagger or Rod Stewart. Instead the Torquay-born Minton, who like Baker started as a trumpet player, found his voice in Dadesque expostulations with fellow vocalists like Maggie Nicols and Julie Tippetts as well as agitprop in left-wing bandleader Mike Westbrook’s larger projects. MORE

October 10, 2005

Sealed Knot

Unwanted Object
Confront

Davies/Hayward/Ekhardt/Capece
Amber
Creative Sources

The Cortet
HHHH
Unsounds

By Ken Waxman
October 9, 2005

Visions of formally attired symphonic types producing shimmering glissandi, or alternately of Harpo Marx manhandling the luminescent strings, remain in most folks’ minds when they think of harpists. That may be why the 47-string symphony harps or smaller 34-string Celtic harps are usually musically underrepresented except for their coloration qualities. MORE

September 15, 2003

JOHN BUTCHER/MIKE HANSEN/TOMASZ KRAKOWIAK

Equation
Spool/Field SPF 303

ANDY MOOR/JOHN BUTCHER/THOMAS LEHN
Thermal
Unsounds u04

Like the fabled jazz gunslingers of the 1960s -- saxophonist Sonny Stitt comes most readily to mind -- free music practitioners have become inured to travelling -- regularly moving from town to town and country to country to play their music.

Unlike those 1960s jazz sharpshooters, who roamed like solitary quick draw artists in the Old West, rounding up a posse of backing musicians to support them in taming the music when they arrived in a location, free improvisers are more syndicalist. Rather than seeing themselves as a single playing with a group of deputized accomplices, they integrate themselves into the posse to produce group music. MORE

September 9, 2002

ANTASTEN

Excentriques
Loewenhertz 006

ANTASTEN
Echos an kegelrändern
Loewenhertz 007

RUDIS/CUSTDIO/DIAZ-INFANTE
Crashing The Russian Renaissance
Pax Recordings 90353

DONKEY
Big Sur
Accretions ALP028

Coming to terms with electronics, synthesizers and their offshoots has become one of the most meaningful obligations facing a certain group of far-sighted improvisers in the 21st century.

Neither novelties nor toys, these devices can produce absorbing timbres on their own or in concert with traditional instruments. Yet, on the evidence of discs like these and others, providing enough aural space to develop a unique sound field is just as important as rationalizing what it will add to a piece of music. MORE

January 15, 2002

TOM & GERRY

Fire Works
Umbrella 028

IGNAZ SCHICK/ANDREA NEUMANN Petit pale
Zarek 05

IGNAZ SCHICK Tabit
Zarek 02

FREDY STUDER/DJ M. SINGE Duos 14 -20
For 4 Ears CD 1242

Electro-acoustic instruments have massively modified the improv world over the past half-decade. While some musicians have stayed clear of synthesizers, turntables, PowerBooks and other sorts of electronic manipulation, others -- especially in Europe -- have adopted these gizmos wholeheartedly. We’re now at a point where with what and how an individual creates is becoming less important than the end result. MORE

October 1, 2001

JOHN BUTCHER

Music on seven occasions
Meniscus Records MNSCS 004

JOHN BUTCHER/DYLAN VAN DER SCHYFF
Points, snags and windings
Meniscus Records MNSCS 010

As amiable as he is adventurous, British saxophone explorer John Butcher rarely misses an opportunity to collaborate with similar intrepid musical explorers. Comfortable in a variety of formations, the two accomplished discs here highlight his duet work.

A superb pair, the main difference between them is choice of partners. MUSIC ON SEVEN OCCASIONS is just that, recorded over a three year period in the 1990s in different American and British studios, featuring nine partners plus four solo saxophone interludes. POINTS, SNAGS AND WINDINGS, on the other hand, has one fewer musician on board then there are nouns in the title. It's a record of duets between Butcher and Vancouver, B.C.-based percussionist Dylan van der Schyff, done last year in Vancouver. MORE

August 13, 2001

WOLFGANG FUCHS/THOMAS LEHN/FABRIZIO SPERA

Lingua
Oaksmus om12010

Wood, metal, skin and circuitry are the components that make up Lingua. Yet what this trio of two German and one Italian is able to produce with these simple elements is convincing because the veteran improvisers play the instruments rather than letting them play them.

That might seem like a truism. But despite all the wiring involved from drummer Fabrizio Spera's electronics and Thomas Lehn's analog synthesizer, and unlike many other so-called electronica combos, you're still conscious of the human conception that goes into creating the sound. MORE