For almost a year now I’ve been learning to use Ableton Live 8 to create electronic music. Last month, I finally polished off my first two compositions. which you can now listen too on my SoundCloud stream. They feature a few short samples from bpNichol’s “Ballads of the Restless Are” and Christian Bök’s “Aria of the Three-Horned Enemy” (one of my favorite sound poems), both available in their original forms at PennSound.

My intentions are to start collaborating soon with Tyler Carter on some original sound poetry compositions, or at least some sort of collaborative poetry/text art that is written and produced for a musical composition, i.e., it is not written for any page, but to be performed.

Check out my compositions “Bubble Honey” and “Grind Slider, for bpNichol.” Leave some comments if you like, or if you don’t. It’s amateur hour, after all, so any feedback is good.

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I can’t sing for shit, which makes this sound even more fun. I was just singing the opening of Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity in the hallway (it was empty, thankfully), and the idea came into my head. I think a lot of it would start to sound like death metal cartoon music.

Other free jazz great’s that would be great a cappella are:

  • John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space
  • The Cecil Taylor Unit (mid-70’s)
  • Pharoah Sanders on Sonny Sharrock’s Ask the Ages
  • Anything with Evan Parker
  • Or Masada
  • Plus highlights from Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun (I think this would sound like Beavis and Butthead on meth)
  • And much much more!

Brought to you by Tom Wallace at Resonance104.4 FM out of London, England, The Southwark Anthology of Noise was a 12-part series of hour long radio shows that aired last year which documented and discussed the history and evolution of noise music. The playlists were created by Wallace as well as by several guests who came into the studio to take part in the show. The radio station’s mission statement picqed my interest too.

You can download all of the shows off their website. I’ve just started listening to the first one now. Happy listening to the rest of yall.

With the help of WebMD I’ve self-diagnosed myself with hypomania, which I am considering a good thing 🙂

Some of the grand projects I’ve set myself upon lately are: conceiving of/designing computer interfaces for poetic collaboration; listening to as much avant-garde music as I can (free improvisation, Tzadik label, other experimental composition); getting myself to improvise freely and fluidly on my trumpet; learning how to make ambient and noise music with Csound.


Csound is a sound design, music synthesis and signal processing system, providing facilities for composition and performance over a wide range of platforms. It is not restricted to any style of music, having been used for many years in the creation of classical, pop, techno, ambient, experimental, and (of course) computer music, as well as music for film and television.

And, of course, the software is free for any and all to download.  I’ve heard that it isn’t easy to learn, though, so wish me luck.

I’m not sure than anything will come of these projects right now, but it’s great starting things, eh?

A friend of mine showed me a few books he had about improvisation this morning, a subject that both of have share an interest in. Improvisational music has for years now been a thorn in my side, or foot, or wherever–I’ve just never been able to get over some personal obstacle that is in my way of being able to really practice it, be it in a “jazz” medium or some other setting.

One of the books was Derek Bailey’s Improvisation: it’s nature and practice, which I flipped through until I came to the section on the ‘new’ free improvised music of the 60’s and 70’s. Bailey is himself a seminal figure in this movement, some of whose more recent albums are among my favorites in his output.

Here is the conclusion of a discussion between Bailey and Eddie Prevost of the group AMM:


[Bailey] And the reasons for the survival, so far, of improvised music in an apparently hostile environment?


[Prevost] Alienation strategies. One thing many of us experienced when we began playing ‘free’ improvised music was a sense of alienation from the available models – playing models – mainly jazz and classical music. The critical response to what we did was, ‘its[sic] not jazz’. In some very important sense those remarks were so wrong, but I won’t go into that. But irksome though they may have been, those hostile attitudes helped. I suspect that most of us didn’t care what it was called, we just wanted to go on playing – and finding out about this new activity in which we were engaged. Being forced to cut what were, in fact, imaginary bonds helped us to recognise our wider cultural and social bearings. It is then that you can begin to calculate where you really want to go. Before, you had been traveling along in someone else’s dream. Even if our music began as a negation it seems to have transcended and superseded those earlier formative aspirations – those unfocused ideas of ‘being a jazz musician’. We have gone beyond all that and its attendant imprisoning ethos. This music, of which AMM is a part, goes on, survives and grows. Precisely because it has these reasons for being, these meanings. I get more of an appetite for it as the years go on. I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. (131)

I can’t help but relate this to what has been happening with ‘experimental’ poetry, or other sidelined movements in literature. There is plenty of interest in a ‘freer’ idea of poetry, one that resists the tradition of ‘bummer lit’, the resists the simplicity of such labels as ‘lyric’ and ‘narrative’, and searches for something else, some dream of its own. I think there are plenty of serious artists and poets that I think would tell (or have told) similar stories. Jackson MacLow would be one of them. It’s a good thing these activities are labors of love.

[More on this later.]

afrique_cd_470a.gifFound this via BoingBoing earlier today. DJ Spooky (Paul Miller) has put together this mix of African music and is distributing it for free on his website in m4a (mpeg-4) format. (You may need to download an audio codec to listen to it.)

If you’re not acquainted with his music or any of his previous mixes, look him up. Serious shit, for sure. Part of Miller’s description of the mix:

The “Ghost World” mix is all about the multiple rhythms and languages of Africa, but it makes no attempt to give you everything – it’s from my record collection. That’s why the “story” of the mix is about: polyrhythm, multiplex reality. There’s even more current material like the Kuduru sounds of Luanda (who says Techno doesn’t exist in Africa!?) and old school hip hop like Zimbabwe Legit from the early 90’s of classic “conscious” school hip hop. Yes there’s material from Akon, but he gets mixed with Nelson Mandela, or MC Solaar, but I looked for material of his that combined with jazz, so Ron Carter’s brilliant bass playing worked out with that. There’s even material from my favorite South African composer, Abdullah Ibrahim or vocal outtakes from David Byrne and Brian Eno’s “My Life in The Bush of Ghosts” and various guest appearances by African dictator Idi Amin or the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo talking about democracy in Nigeria.

Read the rest of his notes on the project and download the mix here.

By accident last year I stumbled across an album that literally blew my mind. The first collaboration between Iyer and Ladd, In What Laguage, was on one level a political statement against the extreme measures taken on the part of airports andslwcalbumcover.jpg the government to ramp up security after September 11th. It went far beyond a simple statement of protest though; the blend of jazz, electronica, spoken word poetry, world music, etc., was flawlessly woven together, and the lyrics ranged from intellectual statements of theory and history to personal narratives from an Iraqi businessman being searched and detained at an airport.

So, when I was at Von’s the other day and saw a new album from this same collaboration, I knew I’d be buying something worth paying $17 for. I was not disappointed. This album makes claims to be just as serious (if not more so) than the last. From the liner notes:

STILL LIFE WITH COMMENTATOR is an oratorio about our virtual surroundings: the information landscape of modern news, the consumer technologies that connect us to it, and the effects of these technologies on our intimate selves.

This time their focus is on the intersection of information and art. The album’s title points to an art project called arts fine art for sale at [NOTE and SPOILER ALERT: When you go to the link, don’t worry that you’ve been redirected to a page of advertisements: that’s what it’s supposed to look like.] And again there is poetry, spoken over everything from programmed beats to 12-tone piano riffs. This time you can add opera and contemporary R&B, among others, to the list of genres at their disposal.

So if you’re interested in music (calling it jazz just doesn’t seem accurate to me) that is highly literate, thoughtful and mind-bendingly good, get this. Ever since I heard In What Language I’ve been keeping my eye out for anything with Mike Ladd in it. He doesn’t disappoint.

jazzlogo2007_1.gifAnyone else up for free jazz in Grant Park over Labor Day Weekend? I’m strongly considering attending this year’s Jazz Festival. I’ve been there twice, and it’s always a good time, and downtown Chicago is great, too.

This year they’ve got a great lineup. The Herbie Hancock Quartet will be at the CSO Thursday evening to kick off the festival. Headliners this year on the big stage (Petrillo Music Stage) are Medeski, Martin & Wood (good jams) Friday, Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra (amazing!) Saturday, and the Mingus Big Band (how could it be anything but amazing) Sunday.

This is looking like it will be a great festival this year. If I only had to choose one night to go, it would be Saturday for Charlie Haden and LMO. I’ve seen Herbie before (and I would again if I could) and I’ve seen MMW two times (or three?), and I’ve been a fan of Haden for years.

And hey, the Art Institute is right there, too. Sounds like a perfect Saturday to me.