Reviews that mention John Shiurba

February 26, 2015

Andrew Raffo Dewar

Interactions Quartet
Ratascan Records BRD 068

Thollem/Robair

Trio Music Minus One (for Dennis Palmer)

Setola Di Maiale SM25650

Bay-area based Gino Robair brings his percussion sets and electronics to these disparate sessions of experimental music, displaying why he has over the years been involved with fellow travelers as different as John Butcher, Nina Hagen and Terry Riley. As well, his role is crucially and individually demarcated in each instance,

Interactions Quartet lives up to its name. The CD’s 11 tracks are divided into two multi-part compositions that conflate background and foreground functions through spatially and graphically notated scores interpreted by four experienced improvisers. The others are guitarist John Shiurba, oboist/English hornist Kyle Bruckmann plus soprano saxophonist Andrew Raffo Dewar. An Argentinean-born polymath, Dewar played and studied with Anthony Braxton and Bill Dixon and now is a professor at the University of Alabama. The first five pieces are dedicated to Argentinean-American reedist/architect Guillermo Gregorio (b. 1941). The five “Pieces for Four Instruments” are dedicated to American composer Earle Brown (1926-2002), who also established his own notational systems. MORE

September 10, 2011

Rastascan

Label Spotlight
By Ken Waxman

“There was never a master plan, except to release music I enjoy and promote musicians I want to help”, says Bay area drummer Gino Robair when asked why he started Rastascan records in the early 1980s and has kept it going ever since.

Over the years the California imprint, named after the term “rasters” from television technology, has put out music on CD, LP, DVD and cassette, as downloads and even on flexi-disc, with sessions featuring artists ranging from Anthony Braxton and Evan Parker to lesser-known improvisers. “Unlike many labels that take a curatorial stance or try to ‘produce’ each record, I give the artists full control over the presentation of their work,” explains Robair. “They determine the look of the graphics, the order and choice of the music, the titles of the album and pieces. That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about running a label; seeing and hearing the full artistic statement that the object represents”. MORE

July 15, 2008

Grosse Abfahrt

Everything that Disappears
Emanem 4146

Grosse Abfahrt

Erstes Luftschiff zu Kalifornien

Creative Sources CS 065 CD

Named for a German dirigible that in 1908 crashed near Berkeley, Calif. during an unsuccessful demonstration of its potential as trans-oceanic liner, both of Grosse Abfahrt’s CDs are organized around more successful European-American interfaces.

Undoubtedly it’s because the only air being distilled here are the currents propelled from the eight instruments on Erstes Luftschiff zu Kalifornien and the nine on Everything that Disappears. Also more in keeping with 21st Century improvisation, the fuel of choice – besides the musicians’ inventiveness – is electricity, not hydrogen gas. Plus, as opposed to brief duration and subsequent crash of inventor John Morrell’s disastrous flight, only one improvisation on either intriguing set is less than three minutes in length. Most clock in around the 10-minute mark, with the first disc’s “interkontinentale luftschiffahrt” proceeding for almost 19 minutes while the other session’s “geometric undulating driveway symmetrical, all the road of masters” unrolls for nearly 39 minutes. Depending on traffic, the later probably is likely a longer time-frame then it takes to drive between San Francisco and Berkeley. MORE

July 15, 2008

Grosse Abfahrt

Erstes Luftschiff zu Kalifornien
Creative Sources CS 065 CD

Grosse Abfahrt

Everything that Disappears

Emanem 4146

Named for a German dirigible that in 1908 crashed near Berkeley, Calif. during an unsuccessful demonstration of its potential as trans-oceanic liner, both of Grosse Abfahrt’s CDs are organized around more successful European-American interfaces.

Undoubtedly it’s because the only air being distilled here are the currents propelled from the eight instruments on Erstes Luftschiff zu Kalifornien and the nine on Everything that Disappears. Also more in keeping with 21st Century improvisation, the fuel of choice – besides the musicians’ inventiveness – is electricity, not hydrogen gas. Plus, as opposed to brief duration and subsequent crash of inventor John Morrell’s disastrous flight, only one improvisation on either intriguing set is less than three minutes in length. Most clock in around the 10-minute mark, with the first disc’s “interkontinentale luftschiffahrt” proceeding for almost 19 minutes while the other session’s “geometric undulating driveway symmetrical, all the road of masters” unrolls for nearly 39 minutes. Depending on traffic, the later probably is likely a longer time-frame then it takes to drive between San Francisco and Berkeley. 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

October 10, 2006

Gail Brand

Supermodel Supermodel
EMANEM 4126

Both an affirmation of the benefits of unstructured first-time improvisation and a threnody of sorts for a fallen comrade, Supermodel Supermodel succeeds on its two levels.

Recorded in early 2003, in Oakland, Calif., the 13 instant compositions mark the initial collaboration between London-based trombonist Gail Brand and a group of Bay area musicians – guitarist John Shiurba, bassist Matthew Sperry, percussionist Gino Robair and laptopist Tim Perkins. Not everyone – even Brand – plays on every track of this 71-minute session, with three pieces recorded shortly after the initial dates in tribute to Sperry, who was killed in an auto accident in the interim. MORE

September 19, 2005

THE HAPPYMAKERS

The Happymakers
Balance Point Acoustics BPA 008

WOLFGANG FUCHS
Six Fuchs
Ratascan BRD 052

Part of the accelerating interchange between experimental musicians from Europe and the United States, multi-reedman Wolfgang Fuchs of Berlin has become a regular transatlantic commuter.

Known for his leadership of the King Übü Orchestrü and the all-reed Holz Für Europa group, these discs find Fuchs heading even further out. That’s a geographic reference – for the CDs were recorded with two different sets of associates in California’s Bay area during a productive visit by Fuchs in 2003. MORE

December 27, 2004

JOHN SHIURBA

Triplicate
Spool Arc SPA402

JOHN SHIURBA

5x5 1.1=M

Unlimited Sedition ULS01

Glimpses into the inventive gray matter of composer/guitarist John Shiurba, these CDs made seven months apart in the same Oakland, Calif.-studio, show him and a nearly identical group of sidefolk exposing two leitmotifs.

The mathematically titled 5x5 1.1=M is a pure instrumental effort mixing composed and spontaneous material with echoes of Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music (GTM) -- not surprising since Shiurba has worked with the influential reedman. More daring, TRIPLICATE extends the basic band on both CDs -- reedists Matt Ingalls and Dan Plonsey, bassist Matthew Sperry and percussionist Gino Robair -- by adding trumpeter Tom Djll, trombonist Tom Yoder and more critically the voices of Lara Bruckmann and Morgan Guberman. The guitarist only conducts on the latter, though he does play on the first disc. MORE

December 6, 2004

DAN PLONSEY

Portcullis
Unlimited Sedition ULS02

Organized following the exhortation from saxophonist Dan Plonsey’s former teacher Anthony Braxton to “write music for the next millennium”, the 18-piece Daniel Popsicle orchestra is notable for both for what it plays and what it represents.

Officially titled “Daniel Popsicle Music of El Cerrito Volume 2A Moving About, Humming, Still Our Flowers Are Blooming, Under the Old Portcullis”, [whew!] the CD shows how a band of committed musicians interpret an original suite of 17 interlocking parts. Drawing on the talents of a clutch of Bay area players, the contrapuntal composition unfolds with practically no solos, but a polyphonic tension between an ever-changing melody and cyclic short repeating patterns. MORE

April 5, 2004

SCOTT ROSENBERG

Creative Orchestra Music, Chicago 2001
New World # 80572-2

WALTER THOMPSON ORCHESTRA
Pexo - A Soundpainting Symphony
9Winds NWCD0234

Creating structures for ensembles of improvising musicians and voices is the thread that unites these two sessions. Scott Rosenberg and Walter Thompson have formulated different paths to creation -- the former by mixing improv and written material, the later by utilizing a composing-conducting system of gestured signals.

Although both methods are praiseworthy, neither disc is 100 per cent satisfying. That’s because application of the theory sometimes breaks down in the spontaneously recorded practice. MORE

July 21, 2003

BRUCKMANN/DIAZ-INFANTE/SHIURBA/STACKPOLE

grand mal
Barely Auditable/Pax Recordings bar 1234

EKG
Object 2
Locust no. 24

Teleporting in from the farthest reaches of experimentation where instrumental improvisation meets up with electrical impulses are these two sessions featuring Chicago-based double reedist Kyle Bruckmann.

A freelance modern classical musician, who plays oboe, English horn and suona or Chinese oboe, Bruckmann works with a variety of sympathetic improvisers. Connections in Chicago and beyond include cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, percussionist Michael Zerang and saxophonist Scott Rosenberg. On GRAND MAL he’s part of a band of West Coast instrumentalists including percussionist Karen Stackpole, who has collaborated with fellow percussionist Gino Robair; electric guitarist John Shiurba, who has recorded with composer Anthony Braxton among others; and acoustic guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, who plays and composes contemporary chamber music as well as improv fare. The interplay reaches exceptional heights here. MORE