first published here: https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2015/events/south-african-jazz-2015/
August 28, 2015
August 25, 2015
August 21, 2015
Have Pere Ubu ever been burned by a support act?
A couple of times I’d think: “Hmm. Maybe we’d better tighten it up tonight.” But nobody burns Pere Ubu. That sounds arrogant, but nobody can touch us. You’ve got to have that belief or what the hell are you doing up there? Every time I go on stage, I feel the metaphorical ghosts of everybody that’s died in the pursuit of truth and knowledge in civilisation and art for the last thousand years behind me saying: “OK, boy. What have you got?”
read the full interview here: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/23/pere-ubu-david-thomas-music-interview
August 17, 2015
(double LPs released on Jan van Toorn’s Slowscan label in 2014 and 2015)
Richard Maxfield (1927-1969) was an American composer of electro-acoustic and electronic music. Maxfield was born in Seattle and wrote his first symphony when he was still in high school. After having served in the US Navy for a year he attended Stanford University but soon switched to the University of California, where he studied with Roger Sessions from 1947 to 1951. After his graduation he was awarded the Hertz Prize, which allowed him to study with Ernst Krenek in Los Angeles and travel through Europe. There he met Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen and got in touch with electronic music. From 1953 to 1955 he studied in the US with Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt until a Fulbright Scholarship enabled him to return to Europe, where he studied with Luigi Dallapiccola and Bruno Maderna and met John Cage. Back in the US in 1958 he attended Cage’s courses at the New School for Social Research in NYC and a year later he replaced Cage, becoming the first American to teach purely electronic music. From 1960 to 1961 La Monte Young studied electronic music with Maxfield and soon became his teaching assistant. Young developed into one of the principal performers of Maxfield’s work. Maxfield’s most productive years were from 1959 to 1964, during which he completed at least 24 compositions. In New York’s first loft concert series, directed by La Monte Young at Yoko Ono’s studio in 1960 and 1961, Young presented two evenings of Maxfield’s work as well as concerts of the works of Jennings and other artists who were creating new and radical work at that time. David Tudor, Terry Riley, Terry Jennings, Dick Higgins and George Maciunas were some of the other artists with whom Maxfield worked. He was Musical Director of the James Waring Dance Company and his work was performed regularly in major concert series, at the Living Theatre, and for dances by Aileen Passloff and Paul Taylor. In 1967 Maxfield left his tape music, scores and equipment in the care of Walter De Maria. He moved to San Francisco, where he taught at San Francisco State College in 1966 and 1967. He moved to Los Angeles in 1968. In 1969 Maxfield, whose drug addiction was getting worse and worse, committed suicide by jumping out a window of the LA Figueroa Hotel at the age of 42.
This first Richard Maxfield anthology released on Slowscan in 2014 contains early compositions for piano (1948-49) and wind instruments (1951), interviews of Maxfield and later compositions among which the famous 1959 ‘Cough Music’. The second Richard Maxfield anthology released in 2015 contains four compositions: ‘Electronic Symphony’ (1964), ‘Dromenon’ (1964), ‘Suite From Peripateia’ (1950-1961) and ‘Wind’ (1961). All recordings courtesy of Dick Higgins. See our Slowscan catalogue for more information and for other Slowscan releases, to which more will be added this week and about which more information is to follow soon: http://www.sea-urchin.net/audio-video/slowscan/
August 14, 2015
read the full programme here: http://ev2.co.uk/jisa/research/content.html
August 6, 2015
August 3, 2015
“The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is why do I think it’s not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.”
― John Cage
August 2, 2015
August 1, 2015
Art, Adorno says, is not culture. Culture is acquiescent, conformist, reflects the false consciousness of unity or totality. True art is confrontational, uncomfortable, exhaustingly engaged in an immanent dialectic with society. ‘The authentic artists of the present’, he writes, ‘are those in whose works there shudders the aftershock of the most extreme horror.’ This leads one to reflect on what kind of society one lives in and what the role is of the art that you practice (if it is art and not only culture), in this society. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it is because living in South Africa at this time (and here I explicitly do not mean the South Africa of anodyne American shopping malls and muzak), it should be.
Contemporary South African INterfaces with Aspects of Adornian Musical Thought
keep reading here: http://kaganof.com/kagablog/2015/03/10/stephanus-muller-contemporary-south-african-interfaces-with-aspects-of-adornian-musical-thought/
July 19, 2015
July 18, 2015
Regarding fame, fortune and Oregon I do wish I had more money. As for fame, it can go to your head and you can become full of yourself. This I was always afraid of and so it didn’t happen to me. It began to happen to me once, way back around 1969. Fortunately I noticed it before anybody else did and I cut it out. So what I do is this –when I go to the venue, I become the entertainer John Fahey. But when I come off stage, I do not want adulation, I do not want to be worshipped. I just want to be treated like an average guy. So I refer to records by me as “Fahey records”, “Fahey music”, and so forth. So I don’t have to speak of MY, ME, I, etc. and keep talking about myself all the time, which bores me and everybody else.
While I recognize in the back of my mind that I am an occasionally brilliant guitar composer and arranger, innovator and player. I also know that I am not a great technician.
Perhaps that is why I manage to keep some humility.
So when people ask me how good I am, I usually cop to being brilliant, even better than that, but short of genius. But I say these things in an objective dispassionate manner because, you know, and I can’t explain why, but being one of the greatest guitarists in the world simply is not very important to me. Oh, but if you took it away somehow I would be very unhappy.
But not suicidal.
I know many inferior guitarists who are very proud of the fact that they are as good as they are, when in fact they are only moderately good. They parade around in their egotism with their groupies and fans and lord it over their worshippers. I do not even laugh at this like others do because the relationship between entertainers and groupies is pathological. As soon as the groupie finds out that you make errors in everyday life like everybody else does and that you are human, they turn on you and hate you.
This has happened to me.
It can hurt a lot especially in the case of girls. As you know, I am very fond of these creatures. Once upon a time I fell in love with a groupie, a Chicago girl, not knowing she was a groupie. The usual thing happened and it was very painful to me.
From a social perspective, I am looking for friends, not acolytes. Being worshipped is a horrible experience.
As for the source of the music, I believe it comes from the unconscious; that there is no such thing as talent. There is simply a lot of hard work and more hard work and after that, more hard work. I believe Thomas Edison said that.
The other thing in composition is opening up the unconscious. I am especially good at the latter because, as I told you, I was in psychoanalysis for eight or nine years. Most musicians I know cannot open up. They are too focused on the audience rather than on their own emotions, or they are too focused on technique or perhaps on both.
When I play, I very quickly put myself into a light hypnotic trance and compose while playing, drawing directly from the emotions.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am playing emotions and expressing them in a coherent public language called music. If you don’t do that you sound stiff and uninspiring.
first published here: http://www.johnfahey.com/roncowanletter.htm
July 17, 2015
July 12, 2015
June 19, 2015
Harmolodic = Highest Instinct
Something to Think About
When I speak of rhythm I’m speaking about the oxygen for the notes. The beat or the time is the constant format. It’s the mechanical part of motion. Rhythm is the freest part of that motion. The beat is the cement for the road. It’s the road that you’re traveling on; the road doesn’t necessarily ever change. Rhythm can be harmonic or melodic. Most listeners and players think of rhythm as the drums and think of non-rhythm as sound or words. To me they’re the same. You can be moved rhythmically or non-rhythmically.
I mprovising is a word used to express music that is not being written and calculated at the moment. Once I heard Eubie Blake say that when he was playing in black bands for white audiences, during the time when segregation was strong, that the musicians had to go on stage without any written music. The musicians would go backstage, look at the music, then leave the music there and go out and play it. He was saying that they had a more saleable appeal if they pretended to not know what they were doing. The white audience felt safer. If they had music in front of them, the audience would think that they were trying to be white. So that’s what I think about the word improvising. It’s outdated. The term doesn’t describe the musician’s individual struggle for expression. Usually the person improvising has to use some sort of vehicle to let you know he’s doing that. It’s a limited term. Memory has a lot to do with improvisation. People enjoy the music they’ve heard before, much more than the music they haven’t heard. To me that’s like memory. The same sensations that made them enjoy what they liked in the past, when it was the present, wasn’t memory. That was an experience.
from Free Spirits: Annals of the Insurgent Imagination (1982).
June 18, 2015
ornette was the first jazz artist i got to really know, to really fall in love with. lonely woman was the track that did it. i was seventeen. it was weird you know, i used to get these compilation tapes from donald mcrae
he writes for the guardian now and books about sport. we used to send each other compilation casettes, he lived in boksburg and i lived in durban. we were both fanzine editors. and there on one of these tapes, in between the fall and suicide and tom waits, was lonely woman and i did not know where that sound came from. it did not come from the register of sounds that i was compatible with. and i used to roller skate around durban sweating profusely with my sony walkman plugged into my head listening to lonely woman. rewinding that track again and again until it breathed through my pores as naturally as the punk stuff i was brought up on. ornette’s sax became part of my fundamental essence, an essential sound. i carried that sound with me all those years in exile and even got to see him play live in rotterdam once with his son denardo on drums. oh my god denardo was such a terrible drummer. his terribleness was quite awesome. i mean he just flailed about hopelessly like he was one of the the raincoats or the shaggs. but every note that ornette played was from the outer reaches of the galaxy, always expanding.
June 11, 2015
June 8, 2015
Les Rallizes Dénudés (裸のラリーズ, Hadaka no Rallizes) were an influential, yet reclusive Japanese avant-garde band. They originally began in 1962 as a musical theatre troupe, however the formation of the band was not until 1967 at Kyoto University. They are known for their ties to avant-garde theater groups (as typified by Shuji Terayama’s troupe) and leftist political groups, as well as for their feedback heavy live shows. The band’s style is typified by simple, repetitious instrumental passages similar to that of krautrock, shrieking, cacophonous guitar feedback, extensive improvisation and folk arrangement. Their discography is made up almost exclusively of live bootlegs, as they have never officially released any of their own material.
In 1970, the original bass player Moriaki Wakabayashi assisted in the hijacking of Japan Airlines Flight 351 orchestrated by the Japanese Red Army. Wakabayashi has been living in North Korea since the hijacking. Singer and lead guitarist Takashi Mizutani was allegedly offered a role in the hijacking, but turned it down. After this event, however, a paranoid Mizutani kept a low profile due to his ties with the Red Army.