Anthony Braxton at Alabama

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I’m so excited to be part of Anthony Braxton’s week-long residency at the University of Alabama kicking off tonight with a free solo saxophone concert at the Bama Theatre and running through February 25th. Sonic Frontiers is presenting these events; visit their site for the full schedule of events. All events are free.

I’ll be performing on Friday’s concert as part of the Falling River Music Septet along with Anthony Braxton (reeds), Taylor Ho Bynum (brass), Andrew Raffo Dewar (soprano saxophone), Tim Feeney (percussion), Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Ingrid Laubrock (reeds). This is such an amazing lineup, and it’s just one of many throughout the 6-concert residency.

In preparation for this residency I’ve been listening to many Braxton recordings, starting with For Alto and moving through the entire Arista Records box set. I thought I had a grasp of Braxton’s work having heard selections here and there (likely beginning with the Muhal Richard Abrams duo on the Smithsonian Jazz compilation). But I was completely unprepared for both the amount of musical material and the incredible range represented: from ragtime and marching band music to post-bop solos and Sun Ra-like grooves, from the density of his music for four orchestras to the spare, spacey explorations on For Trio. And that barely gets us through the 1970s! I can’t think of another composer with such stylistic richness and diversity.

The Wayback Machine brings us Hunting & Gathering via YOURfLESh

James Keepnews unearthed this January 2003 review of Hunting and Gathering (our duo recording) written by Peter Aaron and published in YOURfLESh. Aaron writes,

…an undeniable abundance of tracks here that feature truly stellar interplay, as well as inspired improvisation; see the stuttering duet, “Border Incident.” Full of distant, creepy sounds and scattered moments of close, guitar-sax discourse, Hunting and Gathering is an enjoyable mash of breath and circuitry.

PLAY – New and Improved Improv on Saturday

Thollem McDonas, photo: Peter Gannushkin

LaDonna Smith has organized another jam-packed evening of improvised music with a host of special guests, featuring pianist Thollem McDonas.

Saturday, September 22 7:30pm
PLAY – New and Improved Improv
Homewood Community Center – CDF
1715 27th Court South
Homewood AL
$10/$5 students (sliding scale) kids free

Thollem will perform solo and with Stella Nystrom, dance; Davey Williams, guitar; Craig Hultgren, cello; Andrew DeWar, saxophone. Also on the bill are Hunter Bell, Si Reasoning, myself and LaDonna Smith. Dianne McNaron will preview her upcoming Marlene Dietrich retrospective and Caroline Karson will play Chopin. Come early and stay late, there’ll be lots to take in.

ASAC Presents Ben Miller, Holland Hopson, Barn Owl, Claymation

The Albany Sonic Arts Collective presents Ben Miller, Holland Hopson, Barn Owl and Claymation.

Saturday, June 16
8:00 pm
Upstate Artists Guild
247 Lark St.
Albany NY
$5 suggested donation

This will likely be my last ASAC show as an Albany resident. I’m pleased to share the occasion with:

Ben Miller – alto sax, tapes, the zoo, voice and projection in support of a new release on Living Records. Ben has performed at ASAC a few other times, and was formerly a member of Destroy All Monsters, Sproton Layer, and other units. He’s one of the best out there, and you shouldn’t miss this performance.

Barn Owl – amazing trio of improvising musicians extraordinaire. Matt Weston on drums/percussion, Andy Crespo on bass, and Chris Cooper on prepare guitar/electronics. You’re always in for a treat with these guys.

Claymation – solo electric guitar improvisation from C. Baird Buchanan. We’re excited to have Baird bring his solo project to ASAC for the first time.

 

Location Ensemble: Release, Review, Perform, Repeat…

I failed to mark the release of the Location Ensemble’s debut disc on Tape Drift (td49). Luckily it didn’t escape the attention of Andrew White at The Upstate Soundscape who posted a review of the release. He rightfully singles out drummer Matt Weston as “the unsung hero in this guitar ensemble”. Andrew describes my Six Chords Every Rock Guitarist Should Know as “…a dizzying sound that spirals up with sheets of sound whipping around, building up and then falling apart.” Sounds good to me.

Listen to Eric Hardiman’s Diversion #3 from the release here.

Location Ensemble will perform at Valentine’s on April 18, opening for Disappears (Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Brian Case of The Ponys) and Lotus Plaza (Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter). I’m unable to play with the group that night–but what’s one less electric guitar in a group of eight or nine?

Today’s Fun: Diddley Bows

Inspired by Mike Orr’s Handmade Music Factory book I grabbed some scrap wood and empty soup cans and hacked together three diddley bows. They sound a bit like a berimbau crossed with a one-string Resophonic guitar. I’ll post some sounds once I find my way around the instruments. I’ll likely add guitar pickups or contact mics, too.

Cigar Box Guitar

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Had a great time building a cigar box guitar under the direction of John Nickel at Nickel Cigar Box Guitar.

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Here’s a detail of the piezo pickup that we installed in the cigar box. The small block of wood on the left is later glued to cover the piezo element.

Location Ensemble Catch-Up

Here’s the latest on all things Location Ensemble:

  • Read a review of our recent show at Saratoga Arts in Nippertown.
  • Listen to the recording of my piece Six Chords Every Rock Guitarist Should Know from the Saratoga Arts performance.

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  • Listen to an Upstate Soundscape broadcast featuring Eric Hardiman’s Diversion #3.

Location Ensemble at Saratoga Arts

On Saturday the Location Ensemble will premiere three pieces for multiple electric guitars, bass and drums at Saratoga Arts. 1983 (Jason Cosco) will provide live visuals.

Saturday November 12 @ 8pm
Saratoga Arts
320 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY

Since joining to performing Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio last year, the group has been busy–writing and rehearsing new pieces and naming ourselves Location Ensemble. The group includes Tara Fracalossi, Howard Glassman, Eric Hardiman, Ray Hare, Holland Hopson, Thomas Lail, Jason Martin, Patrick Weklar and Matt Weston.

Here’s the score for my piece on the program: Six Chords Every Rock Guitarist Should Know, inspired by Michael Nyman’s “1-100” from Decay Music.

Bring hearing protection.

The Woodstock Quantum Ensemble & Holland Hopson/James Keepnews in Kingston, June 3

One from the archives: James Keepnews taking us to school in 2002. Photo: Chris Funkhauser

I’m super excited to reunite with partner James Keepnews for this duo show at Backstage Productions in Kingston on Friday June 3. We’ll be performing duets for saxophone, guitar and lots o’ electronics. There may be a banjo piece in there, too.

Our hosts for the night are the Woodstock Quantum Ensemble featuring Johnny Asia (guitar), Damon Banks (electric bass), Joakim Lartey (percussion) and Gus Mancini (reeds).

Fri, June 3, 2011 7:30 pm
The Woodstock Quantum Ensemble &
Holland Hopson/James Keepnews
Backstage Productions
Kingston, NY
$15
$10 students/seniors

Find all the info at AllAboutJazz.com