Tag Archives: Improvisation

A Guide to the Experimental Guitar Fireworks of Li Jianhong

Li JIanhong

“I started playing guitar when I was in high school and had a band,” Chinese experimental musician Li Jianhong says in an email translated by his friend Miao Zhao. “We didn’t read music and had no clue about performance, since we were students in a fine art class. The experience was more like an escape from school and an outlet for our excessive hormones. I wanted to play like a guitar hero, but I hate practicing. My playing was horrible.”

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Konstrukt and Keiji Haino Make Their Own Improvisational Musical Language

Konstrukt

Photos by Alp Egemen

Life in Turkey is tough these days, and likely to get tougher now that President Tayyip Erdoğan has been granted sweeping new powers, is instituting hard-right authoritarian policies, and has been arresting dissidents and journalists.

“Things have never been easy in Turkey for anybody with an open mind, and it won’t be easier from now on,” says Konstrukt co-founder Umut Çaglar. “We as a band never had any financial relationship with or expectation from any corporation or government, so the key element is to stay independent to be able to survive in these dark days.”

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Lifetime Achievement: Joe McPhee’s Vast and Brilliant Improvisational Discography

Joe McPhee

In our Lifetime Achievement series, Bandcamp Daily takes a deep dive into the work of artists with a staggering number of releases to their name.

Joe McPhee has been playing music for more than six decades, but he still has the enthusiasm of someone just getting started. “I like the concept of discovery,” he says over the phone from his home in Poughkeepsie, NY. “I’m a romantic. I love music and I love the stories it can tell that quite often don’t get heard.” Continue reading

Album of the Day: Kyoko Kitamura, “Protean Labyrinth”

The improvisational vocalist and composer Kyoko Kitamura has played a major role in the world of Anthony Braxton. She’s sung in an intimate trio with the veteran alto saxophonist, and also in operas from the composer’s grand Trillium cycle. Now she’s leading her own band—a group called Tidepool Fauna—on the album Protean Labyrinth.

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Album of the Day: Nicole Mitchell, “Maroon Cloud”

In recent years, flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell has produced a series of densely orchestrated, idea-packed suites, whether celebrating the Afrofuturist science fiction of Octavia Butler on Xenogenesis Suite or imagining a truly egalitarian society on her 2017 breakthrough album Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds. She’s embraced the format again with Maroon Cloud—recorded live in March 2017 at New York’s National Sawdust. But this time she applies a more limited instrumental palette, tackling the eight-movement work with a drumless chamber quartet featuring some of the most forceful voices in improvised music: Cuban pianist Aruán Ortiz, vocalist Fay Victor, and cellist Tomeka Reid, who’s one of the flutist’s most trusted collaborators. Continue reading

Tangents’ Collaborative, Improvisational Post-Rock

Tangents

To listen to Tangents is to hear a conversation flittering among five friends at once. The Australian improvisational quintet has no concrete power structure, no clear bandleader, and so its impromptu, decentralized pieces play more like musical environments than traditional songs. Instead of hearing a songwriter relay an individual narrative to a band, you get to hear the whole band build narratives from the ground up, wordlessly and in real time. Electronic loops tangle with gentle guitar leads and punctuative string figures and big, quaking drums; five skilled, adventurous musicians egg one another on to the next urgent moment.

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Blood Wine or Honey Bring Nerves and Experimentation to the Party

bloodwineorhoney

Photos by Daniel Murray

A current of manic energy runs through the wild musical world created by Hong Kong-based trio Blood Wine or Honey. The multi-instrumentalists layer saxophone, cello, bass, MPC, clarinet, as well as woodwinds like the Central Asian zurna and Chinese hulusi, to create a rich palette of psychedelic funk and glitchy Afrobeat on their debut album Fear & Celebration. The ensemble—made up of James Banbury, Joseph von Hess, and Shane Aspegren—call it “hypno-tropicalia.”

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Kamaal Williams on Life After “Black Focus” and How He Defies the Jazz Fusion Label

Kamaal Williams

Photos by Salem Wazaki

When Kamaal Williams first started recording The Return, his first full album under that name (he’s also known as Henry Wu), he knew the bar was incredibly high. Williams was the keyboardist in Yussef Kamaal, a duo with drummer Yussef Dayes that exploded out of London and made waves around the globe with their 2016 album Black Focus, which fused jazz with electronic dance, creating a crossover path between those scenes in the United Kingdom.

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