Reviews that mention Rent Romus

August 2, 2020

Rent Romus, Heikki Koskinen, Life Blood Ensemble

Edgetone EDT 4212

Zenith of a descriptive musical project Bay area saxophonist Rent Romus has been working on for more than half a dozen years, Manala is a refined linkage of ancient Finnish myths with temporal improvisations. The 10-track suite is interpreted with peak performances by a sympathetic 11-piece ensemble, with the compositions, which blend folklore and freedom, shamanism and swing, from the fertile concepts of two Finnish-Americans, Romus and multi-instrumentalist Heikki Koskinen.

When it comes to orchestral contributions, the musical translation from oral poetry into sound of this journey in-and-out of the mystical netherworld into the upper reaches benefits admirably from the expanded percussion arsenal of Cheryl E. Leonard plus the unique instruments and vocalization of David Samas using the sub-Arctic dialect of Northern Finland. Other players involved are percussionist Timothy Orr, dual bassists Safa Shokrai and Max Judelson, saxophonists Tom Weeks and Joshua Marshall, violinist Gabby Fluke-Mogul and most prominently vibraphonist Mark Clifford, whose reverberating clanging is often a distinctive counterpoint to defining solos or attuned instrumental combinations. MORE

August 21, 2018

Otherworld Ensemble

Live at Malmitalo
Edgetone Records EDT 4192



Unisono Records No #

Although improvisers from Finland are less celebrated and lesser known than those from other Nordic countries, a scene exists, although, as in the case with many locations, musicians often have to relocate to pursue their careers, especially if their bent is non-mainstream. These CDs, recorded on live dates in Finland both validate the expatriate axiom. At the same time the strength of both sessions is the admixture of ideas from both Finnish-born and non-Finnish players. MORE

October 27, 2012

Forward Energy

The Awakening
Edgetone EDT 4127

Bulletins from the West Coast confirm that along with all the other sonic innovations taking place there, Free Jazz is still alive and well. As a matter of fact, the 10 tracks on The Awakening – dig that Energy Music-styled title – show that a new generation of experimenters have become proficient in the style.

Titular leader Jim Ryan, who adds flute and trumpet to his usual improvising on alto and tenor saxophones, is old enough to have played with Steve Lacy in Paris in the 1970s and in the Bay area with the likes of trumpeter Eddie Gale. Rent Romus, who plays alto, soprano and C-melody saxophones, has worked with many local musicians, while pianist Scott R. Looney has a long-time working relationship with bassist Damon Smith as well as playing with outsiders like bass saxophonist Tony Bevan. Bassist Eric Marshall is in Gale’s groups, while percussionist Timothy Orr plays everything from Zydeco to all sorts of Jazz. MORE

November 5, 2011

Rent Romus/Vinny Golia

Lords of Outland, Edge of Dark
Edgetone EDT 4112


Halcyon Science 130410

Barnyard Records BR0323

Gail Brand & Mark Sanders

Instinct & The Body

Regardless Records R01

Birgit Ulher/Lucio Capece


Another timbre at41

Something in the Air: Brass-y Women Stand Up and Stand Out

By Ken Waxman

Enhanced freedom in music over the past 60 years has involved more than the addition of new instrumental techniques and compositional strategies. Recasting of gender roles has also taken place. No longer are women instrumentalists expected to play traditionally delicate female instruments such as violins or flutes; or those where they sit demurely such as the piano, harp or cello. This change is most obvious in improvised music, where the number of women who stand up to play has multiplied exponentially. Many have chosen to become brass players, adapting their skills to apparatuses which demands power and stamina. MORE

April 23, 2011

Emergency String (X) tet/Rent Romus

Emergency Rental
Edgetone EDT 4100

Rather like Rockers Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Yankee response to the 1960s British Invasion, the San Francisco-based Emergency String (X)tet demonstrates that it’s not only Continental ensembles that can create notable string-based Free Music.

As opposed to mindless xenophobia practiced by Sarah Palin and Tea Party members, the improvisations of this group don’t have to be praised because they’re from Americans, but can be applauded as high calibre work regardless of geographical origin. One factor contributing to the CD’s outstanding qualities is the blending of the seven strings with sharp, discursive interjections from Rent Romus’ alto or soprano saxophone. MORE

May 13, 2008

Moe! Staniano’s Moe!Kestra

2 Rooms of Uranium inside 83 Markers
Edgetone Records EDT 4064

Frank Zappa once said something to the effect that writing about music was like dancing about architecture. While the sentiments may be apt, with this CD Bay area percussionist-composer Moe! Staniano has created a conduction for interior design. Using two rooms in the now-defunct Oakland Box Theater, Staniano positioned members of his 31-piece Moe!Kestra in separate areas of two rooms and a hallway. Dashing from room to room to cue different passages calls for the skills of a marathon runner, with this exercise in spatial organization also demanding stamina as well as individualism. MORE

June 22, 2006


Reverberations From Spring Past
Pax PR 90281

Extrapolating California’s role as avatar of the new, two musicians from San Diego and two from San Francisco produce a nine-track improvisation with very little reference to the music’s initial nurturing in jazz.

Awash with squealing rumblings, wave form resonation plus triggered side band sequences, textures from Robert Montoya’s electronics and Marcos Fernandes’ phonographies predominate. Tinctures from Fernandes’ percussion don’t really add up to a steady rhythm, while Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s acoustic steel-string guitar licks are wedded to lo-fi manipulation and folk-protest song accompaniment. Because of his instruments – soprano and alto saxophones – the Bay area’s Rent Romus seems the most jazz-like players. But his serrated reed manipulation actually resonates with strategies from the New Thing and BritImprov. MORE

January 31, 2005

Free Jazz and Free Improvisation

An Encyclopedia by Todd S. Jenkins
Greenwood Press Volume One A-J; Volume Two K-Z

By Ken Waxman

January 31, 2005

Reviewing a stand-alone project like Free Jazz and Free Improvisation presents a unique set of challenges, since you must deal with what isn’t covered in the 500-odd oversized pages of these two volumes as much as what is.

From the downbeat author Todd Jenkins has to be commended for his Herculean task, collecting from various sources essential information about Free Music and putting it into approachable form for the student, the researcher as well as the improvisational newbie. MORE

December 9, 2002


1-8 IN 1
Sachimay sca 9357

Edgetone EDT 4012

Each of these CDs features Bay area guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante and an improvising female vocalist. Other than that you probably couldn’t find two more different sessions that get lumped into the experimental/improvised music category.

Putting aside the ancient West Coast-East Coast dichotomy -- The Abstractions hail from and recorded in San Francisco, the Focus Quintet is a New York band -- the difference between the bands is more philosophical than musical. Directed by Dan DeChellis on piano and keyboards and featuring guitarist Chris Forsyth percussionist, Jeff Arnal and vocalist Anita DeChellis as well as Diaz-Infante, the East Coast ensemble, like much of the pianist’s other work aims for that undefined area between “free jazz and art song”, as he terms it. The Left Coasters, on the other hand, who include along with Diaz-Infante, saxophonist Rent Romus, Bob Marsh on vibes and violin, Scott Looney on percussion and vocalist Jesse Quattro plus a good collection of toys and odd instruments, aim to meld improvised jazz, thrash rock, electronics and surrealistic vocal textures. Each CD must be taken on its own terms. MORE

October 14, 2002


Configurations 2002
Edgetone EDT 4009

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, are all highlighted on the more than two hours of this double-CD set by Bay area saxophonist Jim Ryan. But the nuptials being celebrated here are the successful marriage of some veteran players’ post bebop improvisations with those from a new generation of North Californian players.

That takes care of the old and new part. The blue(s) feature on a few of these tracks, while the only thing that’s really “borrowed” is jazz music itself, which some would mistakenly deny to someone like Ryan, who doesn’t conventionally swing. MORE

February 15, 2002


Avatar In The Field: A Tribute to Albert Ayler
Edgetone Records EDT 4001

With music that rappels from the New Thing to skewed mainstream jazz to horror and sci-fi pastiches to skronk and back again, Bay area saxophonist Rent Romus is certainly carving a distinctive musical niche for himself. He’s also a one-man cottage industry, organizing tours in North America and overseas for his many band projects, booking a couple of California music series, participating in multi-media happenings, producing CDs, helping in the marketing of another jazz label, and running his own Edgetone Records. MORE