Reviews that mention Zeena Parkins

November 6, 2018

Elliott Sharp’s Carbon

Transmigration at the Solar Max
Intakt CD 311

Okkyung Lee

Cheol-Kkot-Sae [Steel.Flower.Bird]

Tzadik TZ 4923

Big Bold Back Bone

In Search of the Emerging Species

Shhpuma SSH 032 CD

The Cluttertones


SnailBongBong SBB 005

Pavillon Rouge

Solution n⸰5

LFDS Records LFDS 006

Something in the Air: Eclectic: Electronics stretches the definition of Innovative Music

By Ken Waxman

At least when it comes to exploratory music old definitions no longer apply. Only on the equivalent of a rigid Doug Ford-like populist disc will you find players insisting on one style, be it rock, noise, jazz-improv or so-called classical. Accomplished improvisers in contrast draw on many sources to create unique musical programs, with sophisticated electronics regularly and effortlessly added to the mix. MORE

June 6, 2015

Bobby Previte

Cantaloupe Music CA 21102

By Ken Waxman

This isn’t the Bobby Previte of The Voodoo Orchestra North or his gigs with Charlie Hunter. Instead Terminals features the drummer as composer of concertos for the Sō Percussion ensemble, each of which features a different improvising soloist. With a formal structure these lengthy pieces rise or fall depending on the improviser’s skills. Luckily the odds are better than average.

Since the four-member Sō ensemble plays a percussion factory’s inventory of drums, cymbals, vibes, bells and nearly every other idiophone, “Terminal 4” which features Previte is rather like distinguishing the silhouette of a black cat on a dark night. By mid-point though, Previte crucially makes his presence felt by consolidating everyone’s clanks, clunks and whacks into approximation of what could be termed modern jazz. Conversely “Terminal 1” suffers from a peculiar drawback. Until electric harpist Zeena Parkins asserts herself, tugging gritty glissandi into approximations of electric guitar runs, the weighty history of her instrument nearly makes the proceedings too formal. With precise mallet pops and drum beats merely accompanying her sweep, she’s forced to use electric processes to move the piece into a freer space. MORE

January 5, 2012

Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris

Nu Bop Records CD 09


Positions and Descriptions

Clean Feed CF 230 CD

By Ken Waxman

For the past 20-odd years as “Butch” Morris has demonstrated conduction: structuring free improvisation using a specific series of hand gestures, many improvising ensembles have been created in his its wake. Whether groups use or not signals developed by Morris to rearrange and sculpt notated and non-notated music, conduction is part of their inventory. As these releases demonstrate however, it depends on individual musicians’ skills for a performance to be fully satisfying. MORE

July 7, 2011

Elliott Sharp

The Age of Carbon
Intakt CD 188

By Ken Waxman

From 1984 to 1991 guitarist/composer Elliott Sharp stood the conventions of rock, improv and notated music on their heads with his percussion-heavy Carbon band. Using overdubs to add greater density to the match of his double-neck guitar and reeds with at least three percussionists, plus brass players, an electric harpist and sampler exponents, he created a sound that was uniquely audacious. This three-CD set captures Carbon’s history. It also suggests why once Carbon solidified into a beat-driven combo, with a sound close to contemporary rock bands, Sharp turned to composing on a larger scale, intimate improvising and his Terraplane blues band. MORE

September 13, 2008

Maybe Monday

Intakt CD 132

Expanding the long-running Maybe Monday (MM) trio to seven musicians – most of whom manipulate electronics as well as acoustic instruments – adds an additional layer of polyphony to the proceedings, creating distinct and unique dimensions. Still, the five instant compositions here are only memorably realized because the septet members are canny enough to place waveform pulsation into an already established context.

Anchor for these tracks is the initial trio, which has been together since 1997. Voltage expression was organically introduced to MM before this CD, due to the electric guitar adaptations from Fred Frith plus the electronics linked to Miya Masaoka’s 25-string koto. Although sopranino and tenor saxophonist Larry Ochs is the only acoustic hold-out, he has demonstrated his familiarity with electronic interface in his past orchestral works and often as a veteran member of the ROVA saxophone quartet. MORE

July 22, 2000


It's A Brand New Day
Knitting Factory KFW-271

Tom Cora's death, at 44 in 1998, not only robbed music of one of its few improvising cellists, but also of one versatile enough to move seamlessly between jazz, rock, improv and something resembling "ethnic" music. But, after all, what would you expect from a musician whose playing partners including everyone from guitarists Eugene Chadbourne and Fred Frith to composer/saxophonist John Zorn and singer Catherine Jauniaux?

This memorial CD, made up of performances recorded at the New York's Knitting Factory between 1989 and 1996, highlights his versatility. And that's its strength as well as its weakness.