Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music. Washington, D.C. September 22–27, 2009. Musicologists love to remind us how utterly primal and universal their subject has proven to be. They point to bone flutes and other instruments turned up at the earliest proto-human excavation sites and to the failure among anthropologists to find a single culture, present or past, bereft of[...] Read more

Concerts and Events Richard Sheehe Issue 106

Guelph Jazz Festival. Guelph, Ontario. September 9–13, 2009.   The annual Guelph Jazz Festival is always populist. In its sixteenth edition, it extended its support of outdoor improvisation, plus interaction between Third and First World musicians without lessening its commitment to Free Music. Much of the outstanding music making came from the[...] Read more

Concerts and Events Ken Waxman Issue 106

Jazz em Agosto. Lisbon, Portugal. August 1–2, 6–9, 2009.   There are plenty of festivals designed to exploit beautiful physical settings, but they tend to present the most accessible (and festive) musical genres. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are festivals that emphasize challenging music in ad hoc environments. Somehow, Jazz em[...] Read more

Concerts and Events Stuart Broomer Issue 106

Rainer Wiens. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.   More frequently heard playing guitar and prepared guitar in the context of jazz and improvised music, Rainer Wiens performs here on kalimbas—African thumb pianos possessing a distinctive metallic resonance—which are heard prominently at the beginning and end of this unusual[...] Read more

Recordings Stuart Broomer Issue 106

Birgit Ulher. Radio Silence No More.   Hamburg-based trumpeter Birgit Ulher uses her improvisational prowess to shape this program, treating as full partners the extended drones and blurry hisses that emanate from a stand-alone radio and its speaker. On the nine mid-length tracks here—all with the suffixes ‑welle or ‑[...] Read more

Recordings Ken Waxman Issue 106

Toca Loca. P*P.   Toca Loca is a kick-ass ensemble with some of the heaviest performers in new music: Gregory Oh, piano and voice; Simon Docking, piano and voice; and Aiyung Huang, percussion and voice. All of them deserve kudos for this ambitious project of taking on pop music in the context of peer-to-[...] Read more

Recordings Allison Cameron Issue 106

Saint Dirt Elementary School. Ice Cream Man Dreams.   This newest effort from St. Dirt offers the most vivid image of this Toronto-based “junkyard jazz” combo. Whereas their two previous discs offered a rawer live feel and catchier tunes, the overall sophistication and nuance of Ice Cream Man Dreams showcases both the[...] Read more

Recordings Nick Storring Issue 106

Quatuor Qwat Reum Six. Live at Festival NPAI 2007.   With textures and timbres often as inscrutable as the band’s name, four of France’s most accomplished improvisers explore non-idiomatic sounds. This continuous, though segmented, performance is not only tonally mesmerizing, it also negates, through the use of extensions and[...] Read more

Recordings Ken Waxman Issue 106

Olga Neuwirth and the ICI Ensemble. Who am I? No More.   Animated with sonic jump-cuts and unexpected timbral juxtapositions, these compositions—described as two audio films—by Austrian Olga Neuwirth, demonstrate that she is young enough to be influenced by John Zorn-styled musical pastiches, as well as by conventional music. That[...] Read more

Recordings Ken Waxman Issue 106

Marteau Rouge and Evan Parker. Live.   Devoting more than forty years to the painstaking development of an individual style doesn’t mean that British tenor saxophonist Evan Parker eschews new challenges and collaborations. Live is notable, however, because Parker manages, without altering his distinctive reed patterns,[...] Read more

Recordings Ken Waxman Issue 106

Fast ’n’ Bulbous. Waxed Oop.   Few artists have ever merged and transformed genres with the raw energy and freedom of Don Van Vliet, who under the alter ego of Captain Beefheart (and his Magic Band) merged Chicago blues, backbeats, free-jazz reeds, and lyrics that mingled science fiction, news stories, memoir,[...] Read more

Recordings Stuart Broomer Issue 106

Nicolas Bernier, Jacques Poulin-Denis. Sur Fond Blanc.   It is not always easy to translate music composed for a theatrical setting back to a purely sonic form. Incidental music often relies on a different type of physicality, both in the movement of bodies through space and in the placement of speakers to facilitate the sound itself becoming[...] Read more

Recordings Chris Kennedy Issue 106