20091230

High Bias #16


NAME: Rodrigo Amado

BIO: For Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, improvisation isn’t only a process of making music, but an end in itself and a cause he pursues with great passion. His long span project Lisbon Improvisation Players and other groups he formed with, for instance, Ken Filiano, Steve Adams, Dennis Gonzalez, Carlos “Zíngaro”, Kent Kessler, Paal Nilssen-Love, Miguel Mira or Gabriel Ferrandini, all share the same method of opening the concept of real-time composition to as many perspectives as possible.

With one foot in modern jazz and the other in free improvisation, what he likes most is to play in the jazz idiom, without any tunes or preconceived structures, but forging a work of strong structure, clear direction and deep meaning, in real-time. So, his improvisation, although not free in formal terms, is free anyhow in its strategies and in the open spectrum of possibilities it offers musicians working with him. And that ambiguity is what interests him.

Born in Lisbon in 1964, he studied saxophone since he was 17 years old. Since then, he developed an intense activity focused mainly on the Jazz and Improvised music fields. Studied briefly at the Hot Clube Music School of Lisbon and had private lessons with some of the leading jazz players in Portugal, namely Carlos Martins, Jorge Reis and Pedro Madaleno.

Some of the musicians he played or recorded with: Lou Grassi, Steve Swell, Herb Robertson, Lisle Ellis, Taylor Ho Bynum, John Hebert, Gerald Cleaver, Luís Lopes, Aaron Gonzalez, Stefan Gonzalez, Paul Dunmall, Raymond Strid, Sten Sandell, Per Zanussi, Adam Lane, Joe Giardullo, Harris Eisenstadt, Tomas Ulrich, Alex Cline, Bobby Bradford, Vinny Golia, Dominic Duval, Mike Bisio, Scott Fields, Daniel Carter, Federico Ughi, Chris Jonas, Michael Thompson, Wade Matthews, Gail Brand, Michael Attias, Andrew Drury, Sture Erikson, Rachim Ausar Sahu, Per-Ake Holmlander, Jan Roder, Elliott Levin, Mark Whitecage, Peter Epstein, Greg Moore, Phill Niblock, João Paulo Esteves da Silva, Sei Miguel, Rafael Toral, Manuel Mota, Ernesto Rodrigues, DJ Ride, Carlos Barretto, Ulrich Mitzlaff or Nuno Rebelo, among many others.

In September 2001, Amado joined brothers Pedro and Carlos Costa to start the label Clean Feed, totally devoted to record creative contemporary jazz and improvised music. Very quickly, Clean Feed found itself at the vortex of the international creative jazz scene, releasing projects that reached far beyond what was initially imagined. In 2005, Amado left the company and started his own label, “European Echoes”, focusing mostly in his own work. Since then, he is spending more and more time with his own projects, with music and photography. He also writes on a regular basis for one of the most prestigious Portuguese newspapers, Jornal Público.

He leads the projects Lisbon Improvisation Players and his Motion Trio with Miguel Mira and Gabriel Ferrandini, and tries to mantain regular collaborations with his other projects; the trio with Kessler and Nilssen-Love, the trio with Zíngaro and Filiano, and the quartet with Taylor Ho Bynum, John Hebert and Gerald Cleaver.

WEBSITE: www.rodrigoamado.com


Do you read reviews of your work?

Yes.


Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?


I only read them once (occasionally, I go back to them, years later). After that, they lose the surprise effect.

Yes, I save all of them. They are an important source of information on my site and they help me track certain aspects of my personal evolution. Also, my memory is getting worse everyday, so all this written information gives me a lasting perspective on my work. The strongest look I have on my early years as a musician (20/25 years ago) is a group of reviews, articles and interviews.

Yes, I quote them.


Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?


When I started playing, reviews had a big impact on me and on my work. Bad reviews would make me angry and frustrated and good reviews had an opposite effect. Overall, I think they played a strong role on my formation, as a musician, in a positive way. Gradually, I started identifying critics and writers and interpreting their opinions accordingly. Recently, I face reviews as info, essential to spread the word about my work, but they don’t seem to affect my music in any way.


Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

I have my opinion on some people that write about my work. Others, I don’t know well enough (meaning, I didn’t read them enough to have an opinion). Some, I respect more than others and I am happy to see that they took time to listen to my music. Very often, they will write something that interests me, almost like a conversation between them and my music. I also write about music, and have a strong respect for the discipline. I know how hard it is to choose the right words and to make a text that is both informative and personal, connecting with the music you’re writing about. I’m really not happy with my own writing but I love the challenge.


Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?


Not really. I might say something exchanging mails, but that’s just part of daily communication. When I meet a writer that I feel has a strong insight into my music, we can talk about that, although I don’t feel very comfortable. Most probably, we’ll have a strong empathy and end up talking about everything but my music.


Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?


Yes. It happened a few times. If we got friends through the music, I feel it’s really special if they continue to write about my music. They have a privileged view on my work, and they can go deeper in writing about it, which is the most important thing, in my opinion. Some might choose not to write anymore, after being friends, and I totally respect that. It happened once, that a good old friend of mine ended up writing about music, and he wrote about a couple of my records. That felt really strange. Not comfortable.


Has you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?


No one told me that yet, but I feel it has happened. I respect it.


Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

Well, I have felt in interviews that the journalist has an agenda. And he keeps directing you to his objective instead of really listening to you. That’s annoying. Also, in a small country like Portugal, you always get these little vibes, these subtle signs, that have to do with groups of people, informal lobbies…I care much more for what is written about my music outside Portugal (with a few exceptions). It tends to be less biased.


Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

Yes, I do it often for a Portuguese daily newspaper (Público). I invited two other writers to join the team, so I don’t need to write about Portuguese musicians that I know very well or have played with. My policy is to cover every Portuguese jazz release that comes out. Unless it’s really bad and I feel the musicians don’t deserve to hear about it.


Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I feel music journalism is going through a deep change. There are great writers. Blogs give the possibility of strong personal statements. The record industry crisis is affecting the stability of many. Magazines are closing and online writing hasn’t found the means to finance itself. Everything is a little scattered. Let’s wait.

20091227

Stranded on the Prairie

I crashed on the prairie while trying to see my dad
With his little cats who make my nose run real bad
I was stranded on the prairie, afraid, alone
Trying to figure a way to get an airplane back home
But how was I to know that the wreckage of my plane
Had been iced up and snowed in in the Prairie State

Meanwhile, back in New York

Baby, baby, let's make radio
You know your old-time DJ is sucking up the snow
He's stranded on the prairie, sad as he can be
So come on pretty baby, just you and me

Meanwhile, back on the prairie

The Lincoln impersonators had me on the run
When something heavy hit me like a bushel of sorghum
When I woke up and my heart started to hate
I had a strange feeling I was John Wilkes Booth bait
I felt someone eyein' and I looked to see
That's when I found out they was aimin' at me
Mary Todd, get me outta here!

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey

Baby, baby, let's make radio
You know your old-time DJ is sucking up the snow
He's stranded on the prairie, sad as he can be
So come on pretty baby, just you and me

Meanwhile, back on the prairie

I jumped out of the snowbank, I finally got away
I was frantic, worried about what Station Manager Ken Freedman would say
So I jumped in the cornfield and started to crawl
My chance of makin' airtime gettin' pretty small
So I thumbed down a mule that was headed my way
And I reached Jersey City in about half a day
When I got to Montgomery Street I was almost dead
Heard him talkin' to my listeners, and this is what he said

Babies, babies, that DJ's no good
Babies, babies, should have understood
You can listen to me just as long as you please
So come back pretty babies tune in to me
Cause I love you (I love you, I love you, you're fine babies)
Cause I love you (So damn fine)
Cause I love you (I got no job, the marathon's in March)
Cause I love you (Did I show you my bandwidth?)
Cause I love you (I'll take you for a ride)
Cause I love you (Big major 7th ending or some shit)

20091225

My Home Town #2


Michelle Hill, the new guitarist for The Slits, sports a t-shirt from the Springfield zoo at the Highline Ballroom in New York. She didn't know what it was.

20091223

High Bias #15


NAME: Amanda Monaco

HOME: NYC

BIO: Playing guitar has led Amanda Monaco to perform at the Blue Note, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Birdland, Tonic, Joe’s Pub, and the JVC Jazz Festival, as well as other venues in the United States and Europe.  Amanda’s quartet Deathblow (with Michael Attias – alto and baritone saxophones; Sean Conly – bass; Satoshi Takeishi – drums) combines free-bop sensibilities with through-composed pieces equal parts textural, adventurous, and whimsical. Deathblow performs a mix of Monaco's original compositions and modern twists on classic and obscure jazz repertoire. Monaco’s latest CD, I Think I’ll Keep You, was released on LateSet Records in October 2009 and is available for download from iTunes, eMusic, and amazon.com. As an educator, Amanda has served on the faculty of Berklee College of Music, New School University, and the National Guitar Workshop and is the author of Jazz Guitar for the Absolute Beginner (Alfred Publishing). A former student of Ted Dunbar, Amanda graduated in 2008 with a M.A. from The City College of New York.

WEBSITE: www.amandamonaco.com 


Do you read reviews of your work?

- yes


Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

- yes, yes, and yes


Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

- not really, though I get really annoyed when I’m misquoted.


Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

- at some point I would like to reach out to the publications that focus on women’s interests because jazz can be seen as such a man’s world, you know? And maybe if there was an article on a female jazz musician it could introduce women in music (other than pop) to a wider audience. I am fully aware of the fact that this could totally backfire, but it’s something I’ve always thought about in terms of getting jazz back into the mainstream a bit more.


Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

- Both


Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

- Yes. Yes. We became friends after they wrote about my work, and I value their opinions.


Has you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

- Yes. Well, he’s my husband and I think that it’s ok that he doesn’t want to write about me. He will give me an honest opinion off the record, though, which I truly appreciate.


Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

- Once there was a journalist who saw my essay about the ups and downs of being a female musician and wanted to ask me why I was so “angry”, which only proved that he just didn’t “get” it and was one of those chauvinistic idiots who liked his “girl musicians” demure as opposed to real.


Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

- I’ve interviewed Kenny Barron and reviewed a few CDs for AAJ-NY. I don’t write about music very often, but I enjoy writing about music and enjoy reading about it as well.


Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

- I think it’s abhorrent that some jazz journalists think that the music can’t survive without them; furthermore, it is disgusting that they take the promo CDs they receive and sell them on eBay; that hurts the musicians financially.


Anything you'd like to add?

-  Nothing I can think of right now.


Anything you want to ask me?

- Not right now. Thanks for doing this!

20091216

High Bias #14


NAME: Jon Rose

BIO: For over 35 years, Jon Rose has been at the sharp end of experimental, new and improvised music. Central to that practice has been 'The Relative Violin' project, a unique output, rich in content, realising almost everything on, with, and about the violin - and string music in general. Most celebrated is the worldwide Fence project; least known are the relative violins created specifically for and in Australia.

In 1977, he started Australia’s first musician run collective for the promotion and recording of improvised music – Fringe Benefit.

In the area of interactive electronics, his work is considered exemplary, having pioneered the use of the MIDI bow in the 'Hyperstring' project in the 1980s with the Steim Institute, Amsterdam - and with whom he continues to collaborate often in interactive projects involving sport, games, or the environment.

Jon Rose has appeared on more than 60 albums and collaborated with many of the mavericks of new music including John Cage, Derek Bailey, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Alvin Curran, Fred Frith, George Lewis, Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Marclay, etc. at festivals of New Music, Jazz, and Sound Art world wide such as Ars Elektronica, Festival D’Automne, Maerzmusik, Dokumenta, North Sea Jazz Fest, Leipzig Jazz Fest, European Media, New Music America, the Vienna Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival, etc.

Apart from Europe, considerable interest in Rose's output currently comes from California where he was awarded the David Tudor Residency at Mills College in 2007 and completed a concert and lecture tour of all the major UC campuses.

In 2002 he set up the Australia Ad Lib website for the ABC – an interactive guide to the wild, the weird, and the vernacular in Australian music.

Recently Jon Rose has been commissioned by the Kronos String Quartet to write and build “Music from 4 Fences” for the Sydney Opera House; realised his bicycle powered “Pursuit” project at Carriage Works, Sydney; performed a completely new and improvised solo part for the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; created a major radiophonic work for the BBC on the history of the piano in 19th century Australia; toured in Europe with his current improvisation group 'Futch'; premiered his interactive Ball project at The Melbourne Festival; and been apprehended by the Israeli Defence Forces at the Separation Fence near Ramallah in the occupied territories; performed his interactive multi-media composition “Internal Combustion” for violin and orchestra at The Philharmonic, Berlin.

In 2007 he gave the Peggy Glanville-Hicks address - Listening to history: some proposals for reclaiming the practice of music. It has been published in over six journals, including The Leonardo Music Journal of MIT Press.

He holds 3 passports, one of which declares him a 'Berliner for life'.

WEBSITE: www.jonroseweb.com


Do you read reviews of your work?

When I get sent them.

Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?


I put them on my website under Press...so when concert promoters ask for press...it's there to grab. I am partial to the really bad reviews.


Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

No, it just means I stopped reading the Wire a long while ago.


Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

The writers who have some media power and write the history of experimental music seem to carry the same aesthetics in their bag, I'm not part of that club. And as Groucho said "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member".


Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

In the book "Violin Music in the Age of Shopping" - a certain jazz critic was taken to the cleaners. In 1980 I did ring up a reviewer from the Adelaide Advertiser who had by misfortune been told to review my concert when he was programmed to review a choir singing madrigals. He clearly was out of his depth - so I rang him to help him through the hoops. At first he denied writing it, then, when pushed, said "Look I don't mind modern music, I like the Beatles!" I haven't bothered since then.


Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

I have no reviewing friends that I'm aware of.


Has you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

No that never happened...but people have written to me to say positive and negative things about my work, but no critics that I'm aware of.


Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

Possibly reviewers don't like it when musicians write as I guess they think of it as crossing into their territory.


Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

I have written (with rainer Linz and some 8 other anon authors) two books "The Pink Violin" and "Violin music in the Age of Shopping". I write a lot of stuff about the violin, improv, music history, strings, electronics, which can be found on my website. I occasionally submit stuff for publication, not the Wire as it's clearly a little club of back scratchers anxious to keep the history of music for themselves and their mates.


Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

You will never get writers with the passion or knowledge of Mann or Adorno ever bothering with music again. Music lost its power and place in society when the notion of a professional musician became extinct. Now it's just celebs, minor celebs, or wannabes, talent challenged ex pop stars, and downloads.


Anything you'd like to add?

It's a big subject - I'd suggest that I deal with this issue in Listening to history: some proposals for reclaiming the practice of music. The basic assumption that it all happened in the 20th century is nonsense, it all happened in the 19th century and before. Nothing much new under the music of the spheres, just changes of context.


Anything you want to ask me?

No, but feel free to quote from that article - it remains current somehow.

20091210

Larry Ochs is Not Jazzy Enough

By Giles Tremlett
The Guardian Wednesday 9 December 2009

Jazzman Larry Ochs has seen many things during 40 years playing his saxophone around the world but, until this week, nobody had ever called the police on him.

That changed on Monday night however, when's Spain's pistol-carrying Civil Guard police force descended on the Sigüenza Jazz festival to investigate allegations that Ochs's music was not, well, jazz.

Police decided to investigate after an angry jazz buff complained that the Larry Ochs Sax and Drumming Core group was on the wrong side of a line dividing jazz from contemporary music.

The jazz purist claimed his doctor had warned it was "psychologically inadvisable" for him to listen to anything that could be mistaken for mere contemporary music.

According to a report in El País newspaper yesterday, the khaki-clad police officers listened to the saxophone-playing and drumming coming from the festival stage before agreeing that the purist might, indeed, have a case.

His complaint against the organisers, who refused to return his money, was duly registered and will be passed on to a judge.

"The gentleman said this was not jazz and that he wanted his money back," said the festival director, Ricardo Checa.

"He didn't get his money. After all, he knew exactly what group he was going to see, as their names were on the festival programme.

He added: "The question of what constitutes jazz and what does not is obviously a subjective one, but not everything is New Orleans funeral music.

"Larry Ochs plays contemporary, creative jazz. He is a fine musician and very well-renowned."

"I thought I had seen it all," Ochs, who reportedly suffered a momentary identity crisis, told El País. "I was obviously mistaken."

"After this I will at least have a story to tell my grandchildren," the California-based saxophonist added.

20091209

High Bias #13


NAME: Cooper-Moore

HOME: NYC


Do you read reviews of your work?

Yes.


Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

Yes.Yes.Yes. I have used quotes only once that I can remember. It was a pamphlet for a performance and workshop. It was never distributed. More often reviews document the where, when and who with.


Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

Years ago I remember a writer talking about the difference between performances in clubs as opposed to concerts on stage in larger venues. The presence of alcohol or not being an important factor in how a performance is presented.


Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

It's not something I give thought to.


Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

Yes I did one time. It was to inform the person that his negative comments were misdirected. We the musicians on the recording had no control over what tracks released, or how they were recorded mixed and mastered, or the final order of the tracks on the CD. The problem was not with the musicians but with the producer and the label. I wrote to inform.


Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends?

I consider you a friend. It has nothing to do with your writing about me or anyone else. You are one of only two people that I have met in NYC in the past 25 years who ever offered and gave me a ride home after a gig. William Parker was the other one. With all my stuff it can be very difficult to make a gig. It usually always cost me more than I make on a job. That impressed me because I am from a place where people with cars always offered ride to people with none. Maybe that has changed but it is what I remember as being proper behavior.


Do they write about your work?

Yes.


How does that make you feel?

The more I appear in the press the more likely I am to work. That makes me feel good.


Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

No.

But I see that as a writer's problem. I am much more critical of what I and those around me do than any critic can be. I hear everything, good and bad, in tune, out of tune, sloppy playing, forgetfulness. I appreciate truth.

I know you are more concerned with musician-and-writer. But there is a huge problem in my world with musicians being able to be critical of one another, like being able to tell another musician stuff. I just isn't appreciated.


Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

No.



Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

No. I am not a consumer of music.


Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I don't know if the journalism is any better or worst. There seems to me to be a problem with the core quality of the music performances I experience. Too few venues and venues that confine bands to one set. I grew up hearing bands playing multi-sets nightly. This helped educate the listening ears and enabled musicians time to develop in ways that do not happen in rehearsals or from practicing their instruments.


Anything you want to ask me?

Nope.

20091203

On Auto-Tune

This is a piece I wrote a few months ago for the Living Music Journal which was supposedly coming back to life but now, well, it seems to be unclear. I chatted with Chuck about auto-tune while I was writing it, and he kindly segued me in his High Bias interview below into my posting it here. Thanks to Rob Voisey for letting me post it here, and hopefully LMJ will still see the light of day.

In June of 2009, Jay-Z released the single “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune),” an indictment of the pitch-shifting software used to “fix” the vocals in almost all pop songs on the radio today. In an attack that gained its impetus more from his clout than any real argument, the rapper suggested that use of Auto-Tune is emasculating, implying that Sinatra wouldn’t use it and namechecking T-Pain (one of the heaviest users), telling him to quit singing and “get violent” to prove himself.

You rappers singin’ too much
Get back to rap, you T-Pain’n too much
I’m a multi-millionaire
So how is it I’m still the hardest nigga here?
I don’t be in the project hallway
Talkin’ bout how I be in the project all day
That sounds stupid to me
If you a gangsta, this is how you prove it to me
Yeah, just get violent
This is death of Auto-Tune, moment of silence.


It might not be the sturdiest of syllogisms, but Jay-Z has weight to throw around. He has sold 26 million records and is the former CEO of both Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella. And in the endless oneupsmanship of hip hop, he is putting himself above rappers who resort to singing, and then have their voices fixed in the studio. (Chastising a rapper for singing is, in itself, pretty funny. Prince, one of pop’s finest voices, did as much 20 years ago: “You see in rap, the first problem /usually stems from being tone deaf / Pack the house, try to sing / won’t be no one left.”) But oddly for a man who’s made his millions in a universe of artifice, Jay-Z is missing the point.

Auto-Tune was initially created by an Exxon engineer who discovered that programs used for interpreting seismic data could also analyze and modify tones. While slight fixes in songs can be seamless, the technology has also been pushed to force sonic stairsteps, first and most famously heard in the chorus of Cher’s 1998 single “Believe.” The robotic voice-morphing as she intones the title is the only thing that made the song memorable, an endearing aural trick that at once sounded futuristic and retro. This is not the harm but the charm of Auto-Tune.

There is something quite likable about the artificiality of Cher’s (or T-Pain’s, or Lil Wayne’s) robot voice which is quite different than it’s purely fix-it application employed by such “real” singers as Reba McEntire, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Using the tool to fix a flawed vocal perhaps does amount to deceiving the listener, as did hiring Glen Campbell to play on the Monkees records, or hiring whoever it was that sang Milli Vanilli’s parts.

But the Cher-Pain-Wayne usage is, of course, a different thing. The attempt there is not to fool record-buyers, but to create (and subsequently emulate) a new sound, something novel. In that sense, it’s not like hiring a session musician to play the parts the band can’t, but like speeding up a tape to create an effect, or for that matter using someone else’s vinyl record to create a new sound on your own (you still with me, Z?). It’s not trickery, it’s seduction, a snappy come-on line to get your attention. It’s artificial and, if all is as it should be, it’s novel. It’s artifice and novelty. These are the qualities that, presumably, Jay-Z (and others, Wyclef Jean for one, who have condemned the application in song) wants to separate himself from. But artifice and novelty are not qualities that should be dismissed so easily in pop music. These are the things that put a smile on our face, that make us feel bemusedly nostalgic, when we hear “Crimson and Clover” or “Do You Feel Like We Do” or “1999” or “Funky Town” or any other of a number of processed-vocal songs.

Auto-Tune abuse will prove to be the pop zeitgeist of the early 21st century. And in a style as concerned with immediacy as is rap, it might be one of the few lasting impressions being made.

20091202

High Bias #12



NAME
: Chuck Bettis 

BIO
: Raised in the fertile HarDCore soil, nourished within Baltimore's enigmatic avant garde gatherings, blossoming in NY's Downtown Musical tribe 

WEBSITE
: www.chuckbettis.com 

Do you read reviews of your work?
 
Unfortunately, i do.

Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?
 
I am disgusted that i read them at all, never save them, never quote them.

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?
 
Only serves as a reinforcement to my belief that you should not care what other people think of your art.    

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?
 
Nope, bring it on, i will fight you all! 

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?
 
No, since i believe that once you put something out into the public sphere, it is no longer yours, it belongs to the public.   i guess i passively subscribe to the notion that there is not such thing as bad press.  Also, i'm am a strong proponent of the philosophy that actions speak louder than words.   

Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?
 
I am friends with a couple of reviewers, very few whom dared to write about my work. I am glad they took the time to write about my music and hope they could do so without our friendship tainting an honest response.  

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?
 
Not directly, but yes that is a factor.   Knowing who the artist is ALWAYS changes your reaction to their work, be it listening to or writing about. 

Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.
 
Yes, i have dealt with many asshole journalists, most whom i have confronted and literally called them an asshole.  i did an interview for [an arts weekly] where the conniving writer twisted my words and pitted me against my friends in the musical community, plus for some reason he decided to write about my shoes too, what the fuck!

Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?
 
Yes, almost weekly, Yes, but i try to make reviews interesting for me to read instead of being a cookie cutter template.

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?
 
No nostalgia here, time always tells who does their homework and who passionately cares about the artists. 

Anything you'd like to add?
 
Stop writing about music, go listen to it!

Anything you want to ask me?
 
How do you feel about auto-tune?

20091125

High Bias #11


NAME: Jessica Pavone
HOME: Brookyln NY
BIO: "Jessica Pavone is one of the busiest young performers on the city’s creative music scene,” declared Steve Dollar in a 2008 feature in the New York Sun, “lending her strings and a direct, personal style of playing them to all kinds of settings.” Jazz Review’s Philip Clark writes, “We learn things from her music that we didn’t already know. [Her] harmonic openness turns the microscope on herself and she responds with lines of honest clarity, an oblique perspective on the familiar.” AllMusic.com’s Charlie Wilmouth adds, “Her work possesses an uncommon amount of elegance…each piece is perfectly formed, expiring just as its tiny collection of melodic materials cycles through to its logical conclusion.”

Active in New York for the past decade, Ms. Pavone is best known for her work with the iconic Anthony Braxton, and a cadre of his former students that includes guitarist Mary Halvorson and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum. In addition to leading her own bands, such as The Pavones, she has also performed in improvising ensembles led by Jeremiah Cymerman, Laurence “Butch” Morris, Matana Roberts and Eliot Sharp, as well as such collective groups as the Mary Halvorson/Jessica Pavone Duo and The Thirteenth Assembly.

As a composer, she has earned grants and commissions from the Aaron Copland Recording Fund, the American Music Center, The Kitchen, MATA and the group, Till By Turning, which recently presented the European premiere of “Quotidian” at Faust’s Klangbad Festival 2009 in Germany. Her discography features more than 30 recordings, including recent releases from the Anthony Braxton 12+1tet, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings and William Parker.

WEBSITE: www.jessicapavone.com


Do you read reviews of your work?

Sometimes. I tend to pay less attention to them in more recent years. I always give it a look, but I tend to skim depending on how the review is written or which band it is about.


Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

Yes, I have read, saved and quoted them. I save them less these days, because I can usually find them on the internet if I need to reference them.


Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

No. I still work the way I am going to work, but I appreciate the feedback weather positive or negative.


Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

There are a few writers that I feel like "get" me more than others and I am happy to read their opinions because often I learn something new about myself from their summary of my sound. I have never dreaded a writer to write about my work.


Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

No


Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Yes, there are two writers who I have become friends with. They were writing about me before we were friends and that is how we met. If they had positive things to say about me, it was not because they were my pal, because that came second. They still do write about my work. I don't feel like there is unfair favoritism but I do think they usually take more time to do the work justice. Or since they are familiar with my work already, they catch things that I am evolving more than someone hearing my work for the first time. It makes me feel safe actually, to know my review is in their hands, because more thought will be put into the review instead of just blank description with no insight.


Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

No


Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

No


Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

No, but I wrote some extensive papers in graduate school about some of my peers work. I really enjoyed it and I learned so much from it. It was a new experience for me and a different approach to thinking about music. I definitely became more interested in the art of writing about music after this experience.


Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I don't have an opinion about this


Anything you want to ask me?

Are there musicians you prefer writing about? Ones you dread? How much freedom do you have in choosing the artists you write about?


(Photo by Erica Magrey)

20091118

High Bias #10


NAME: Lindsey Horner

BIO: Bassist Lindsey Horner is one of the more versatile musicians in jazz and modern music. He has most often been heard with musicians on the cutting edge recording and performing with artists such as Greg Osby, Bill Frisell, Bobby Previte, Dave Douglas and Muhal Richard Abrams, to name but a few.

As a leader, he has recently completed the initial stage of a recording project called UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY through the innovative company ArtistShare whereby listeners and fans of the music can participate directly in its realization. He has also produced four previous recordings, NEVER NO MORE, MERCY ANGEL, BELIEVERS and DON'T COUNT ON GLORY.

He was a member of the co-operative group JEWELS AND BINOCULARS which focused on improvised takes on the music of Bob Dylan. Their final recording, SHIPS WITH TATTOOED SAILS, found its way onto many critics' "best of the year" lists.

Through the ‘90’s he performed as a member of the Myra Melford trio, an association which yielded four highly acclaimed discs.

He also has deep roots in Irish music having toured and recorded extensively with singer/songwriter Susan McKeown, Scottish fiddle master Johnny Cunningham and traditional Irish music legend Andy Irvine.

WEBSITE: www.lindseyhorner.com

Do you read reviews of your work?

Yes.

Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

Yes, usually, and I do quote them if they are favorable and well phrased.

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

The opinions of my peers have had a greater effect on my work both for better and for worse. I saw early on that trying to guess how to please critics was a losing proposition.

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

There are certain writers about whom it is well known they have various axes to grind and chips of varying sizes on their shoulders. I hope to avoid those writers at all costs. On the other hand, there are writers with well deserved reputations for being fair and open-minded. I welcome their opinions.

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one? 

I have thanked a reviewer when I felt he really “got it”.

Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Sometimes. I hope they can evaluate the work fairly.

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction? 

Yes. I think they were right.

Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

I once met a writer in Sweden who seemed to have some axe to grind that I didn’t agree with. We just didn’t hit it off, you might say. He went on to review a concert I played and said some things about my playing that I felt were unjustified and clearly influenced by the unfavorable interaction we’d had. In other words, he was an asshole.

Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

Only in reponse to a general survey (like this one). I’m uncomfortable writing critically about other people’s music. I’d be even more uncomfortable doing it for pay.

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I think the standard of writing was higher in the past - just in the use of the English language. I’m tempted to say the critical faculty was at a higher level as well, but I’m not sure if that’s true.

Anything you'd like to add? 

I always enjoy reading things written by Ted Panken. I think he is a true scholar of the music, has a wide open mind, feels passionate about the art form of jazz music and has no prejudices - at least none that reveal themselves in his writing. 

In general, I think a critic should evaluate something on it’s own merits and terms. If he/she can’t or won’t do that, then they should admit that they are unable to review the artist or concert or recording or whatever. 

I’ll give an example. Years ago, I attended a concert which was an intriguing double bill of The Art Ensemble of Chicago paired with the group, Oregon. Each band played a set on its own and at the end they played one long piece together. It was a fantastic concert, and something of a one time only event.

A certain well known reviewer wrote at length about how Oregon was unable to swing, wasn’t really playing jazz and didn’t belong on the bill with the AEof C. Now, leaving aside for the moment that AE of C would themselves never be mistaken for the Basie band in the swing department, this writer clearly had an agenda, chose to ignore the high level of musicianship all around as well as the obvious enjoyment of the musicians and the vast majority of the sold out audience. In other words, he was  unqualified to write about this event and thus should not have done so. It was a drag. In my opinion, that is.

Anything you want to ask me? 

What led you to start writing about music? What do you get out of it artistically? Do you feel that criticism is an art form?

20091111

High Bias #9


NAME: John Bisset

BIO: Born 1960 - Stockport, England.

John Bisset received early training on the piano, but from eleven preferred the guitar, on which he was left to his own devices.

 His teenage works were compositions and structures for improvisations on the piano, guitar, viol and assorted objects (paint tins, tent poles, etc). Also singer/songwriter with new wave bands. He attended art college and combined the musical and visual in various forms.

He has continued in the same vein - composing for large groups of improvisers - making songs and short films.

Lives in London.

WEBSITE: www.2-13.co.uk 

Do you read reviews of your work? 

Not if I can help it

Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

Used to - still use some quotes

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

They come up with intentions you never thought of, and then sometimes you start believing them, adopting these intentions, so you can end up doing stuff you never intended to do. Not a problem except that it can waste time and lead to disappointment when you fall short of said marker...

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

No opinion, but you, Kurt, were excellent, in that you seemed a genuine fan with a broad interest in me and the music - not after an 'angle'. Stewart Lee also.

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

Nope

Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Stewart Lee. Does same sort of business conjuring up stuff you never meant - but always a positive slant and usually boosts sales.

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

nope

Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

nope

Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

nope

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

no opinion

Anything you'd like to add?

nope

Anything you want to ask me?

how are the woods this autumntime?

20091104

High Bias #8


NAME: Jon Ginoli

BIO: singer, guitar, vocalist, founder of long-running gay rock band Pansy Division

WEBSITE: www.pansydivision.com 
 

Do you read reviews of your work?
 
yes 

Do you reread them?

sometimes  
 
Save them?

always, I try to archive anything I run across. Google Alerts helps.
 
Quote them?
 
yes, sometimes 

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?
 
Not really. Sometimes I have noticed writers not really grasping certain aspects of our approach. I have noticed that when taking a more subtle approach it is more likely to be misinterpreted; a number of our songs are very blunt, and those seem to be understood better.

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

Not really, though there a couple of writers I make sure are kept off our promo list. I am not interested in giving writers who have no interest in us a promo copy they will instantly sell.  Just because someone is an "important" writer on every publicist's promo list doesn't mean they should get a copy.  

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

I've felt like responding a few times but I don't think I ever did. I think about contacting people when they've gotten something egregiously wrong, or are condescendingly mean, but I've also written reviews in zines over the years myself, so I know it's futile. Once it's written, it's over. 

Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?
 
There are some sympathetic reviewers, yes. Even if their viewpoints might be different than mine, I like reading them because many have followed us for a long time and sometimes have interesting insights. 

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

I don't think so. Perhaps it would be an issue if we were getting coverage at a more mainstream level. 

Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

Yes, I can recall various times where the interviewer was trying to lead me into saying something, to try to steer me in a specific direction, put words in my mouth.  No specific examples come to mind--it's not something I sit and worry about--but you have to be especially careful with the Brits, they love pitting musicians against one another. 

Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

I wrote in various fanzines and magazines from 1977 till just a few years ago. I often used a pseudonym after I started playing in bands, so I could do both without having it reflect on my band or my bandmates. 

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I think it used to be better, because in the past there were more bands worth writing about.  The coverage carries on regardless of whether the music is worth hearing or not. I mean, my god, there are a million articles on Radiohead, it's so fucking boring. Do you really want to read more about Animal Collective, or Devendra Banhart, or find out what Thom Yorke is doing today? zzzzzzzzzz... 
 

(photo by Michael Carmona) 

20091102

100 Carpenters and a Dancer


I'm toast excited about two things, or three depending on how you count, coming up this month. First, on Nov. 7 and 8, I'll be one of the section conductors in Doug Henderson's composition for 100 Carpenters. The official words go like this:


Music for 100 Carpenters
Performances: Sat. & Sun. Nov. 7 & 8, 8pm
Installation: Nov. 13 to Dec. 20
BOILER @ Pierogi, 191 North 14th Street, Williamsburg Brooklyn.



Music for 100 Carpenters is a theatrical surround-sound music performance, enlisting 100 skilled and unskilled tradespeople. Prying at Stockhausen’s convolution of rhythm and timbre, 100 hammers, 100 blocks of wood and some 10,000 nails of varying sizes are brought to bear in a real-time, real-world articulation of complex computer synthesis. Under the guidance of job supervisors, thousands of hammer blows become waves of tonal murmur, threaded with rustlings of nails and occasional snarls of righteous indignation. The performers are organized into work crews with lists of tasks and closely timed schedules, and arranged in a circle around the audience. Toolbelts, sweat and lunchboxes are part of the score. For the installation phase, a bird’s eye view of the performance is projected on the floor, with the debris from the show left in place, accompanied by a superbly detailed six channel surround sound recording.




Then, on Nov. 15, Vacant will make its possibly awaited return. It's Jen Mesch dancing and me playing guitar. We might be doing something like the Carter Family or The Doors or Lead Belly or Bob Dylan. Probably not Bob Dylan. Oh, god, no, remember that Twyla Tharp Dylan thing? Christ. OK, we probably shouldn't do Dylan, even though it would have worked in pretty well. Anyway, that one will be at ABCNoRio, 156 Rivington, in Manhattan, at 8. Sax looper Frank Wilson plays first.

20091101

10 Photos I Took This Halloween









Party at Devotion Gallery

Party at Devotion Gallery



Janet Pants at Issue Project Room

Suzzane Rogaleski and Growler at Issue Project Room

kissyface

20091028

High Bias #7



NAME: Chris Forsyth

BIO: Chris Forsyth is a founding member of Peeesseye, the transcontinental amalgam of minimalist rock, noise, folk, drone, psych, improv, sound poetry, and absurdity that has produced a dozen releases and over 155 concerts in Europe and the US since forming in Brooklyn in 2002. He also performs solo and has toured widely on both electric and acoustic 6- and 12-string guitars and is a member of the elusive and rarely spotted experimental group Phantom Limb & Bison. Other notable collaborators have included reductionist/blues guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama, Bay Area composer/multi-instrumentalist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, trumpeter Nate Wooley, drummers Mike Pride and Ryan Sawyer, and choreographers Miguel Gutierrez and RoseAnne Spradlin, plus an international cast of improvisors, experimenters, and rockers too numerous too mention. He released his second solo record Dreams on LP in September on Evolving Ear. Other recent and upcoming releases include the Dirty Pool LP, with Farfisa organist Shawn Edward Hansen, on Ultramarine, the Chris Forsyth + Nate Wooley CDR The Duchess is Dead, Long LIve the Duchess on Chocolate Monk, and a long list of Peeesseye projects, including the Robust Commercial Fucking Scream six-cassette live anthology on Digitalis and Pestilence & Joy, their new studio LP from Evolving Ear. He is the caretaker of Evolving Ear and lives in the City of Philadelpha, USA.

WEBSITE:
http://www.thechrisforsyth.com
http://www.peeesseye.com
http://www.evolvingear.com



Do you read reviews of your work?

Yes.

Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

I do keep an archive for posterity. Sometimes promoters want to see press quotes, too.

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

Not in the least. At least not in the case of reviews of my own work. I do read reviews of other things though and sometimes get curious or interested in them as a result.

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

I stopped sending my releases to [one magazine] because they so completely bungled a profile of Peeesseye about four years ago, printing an early, non-fact checked draft, and actually cutting off about three paragraphs from the end (so the article ended "continued on page 109," or something, but there was nothing on that page), and then refused to acknowledge the errors or run corrections of the wildly inaccurate article in print. It made the writer (none of this was his fault) as well as the band, and, ultimately, the magazine, look stupid. So, I figured, no more promos for you!*

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

No, but Peeesseye did once take out an ad in a magazine after they printed what we felt was a hilariously misguided review in which the writer interpreted a piece on our Artificially Retarded Soul Care Operators CD as some kind of failed macho aggression. He closed the review by saying something to the effect of "Three inches of angry dick is still only three inches." It was probably he most memorable quote ever about our music, so we felt like we should use it in the ad (with a wink)!

Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Sure, I'm friendly with some reviewers. I try to keep personal friendships and business kinda separate. It's better that way.

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

No, but I think if someone feels they're going to be too slanted or biased or influenced negatively by their relationship with an artist, then it's their prerogative to recuse themselves from the conversation, and that's fine.

Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

Not really, but I think there are music writers that often write more about themselves than the record at hand. Sometimes that can be great and other times it's just kind of lame.

Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

No.

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I think it's the same with all forms - music, writing, films, art, etc - 95% of what's around is total crap, and then there's the good stuff. As for journalism, the period that I find most interesting to me is the 70s rock journalists like Lester Bangs, for example, who's writing is really just top notch and takes you somewhere and seems to match or eclipse whatever he was writing about. He's one that wrote about himself as much as the music, but it was intimate, funny, personal and effective. But, then again, he was a rare talent in any field.


(photo: Maria Dumlao)

[*magazine name redacted to keep the peace]

20091021

High Bias #6


NAME: Nate Wooley

HOME: Jersey City, NJ

BIO: Nate Wooley (b. 1974) grew up in a Finnish-American fishing village in Oregon.  He has spent the rest of his life trying musically to find a way back to the peace and quiet of that time by whole-heartedly embracing the space between complete absorption in sound and relative absence of the same.  He began playing trumpet professionally at age 13 with his father, and after studying he moved to Colorado where he studied more with Ron Miles, Art Lande, Fred Hess, and improvisation master Jack Wright. 

Nate currently resides in Jersey City, NJ and performs solo trumpet improvisations as well as collaborating with such diverse artists as Anthony Braxton, Paul Lytton, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Marilyn Crispell, Joe Morris, Steve Beresford, Wolf Eyes, Akron/Family, David Grubbs, C. Spencer Yeh, Daniel Levin, Stephen Gauci, Harris Eisenstadt, Taylor Ho Bynum and Peter Evans.

WEBSITE: www.natewooley.com 


Do you read reviews of your work?

Yes.


Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them? 

I usually only read them once, and that is just a skim.  I never save them physically, but if there is a quote that I feel like I can use for a bio or press packet in the future I will write that down.  It's not something that I often do, but sometimes a promoter or writer asks for one and I like to have it on hand.


Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

I think early reviews had an impact on me.  I was very tied up in how my work was viewed by the "public" and the press seemed to embody that.  Especially during the release of those first couple of records, Blue Collar primarily, I would really take the reviews to heart, and think about what the writer was saying about my own playing and the group's dynamic and work on it while I was practicing.  As I grew more confident, I took reviews more with a grain of salt than I would have previously.  I would say now that reading a lot (relatively speaking) of reviews of recordings, that it has reinforced an attitude of keeping my head down and working hard making the music I want to make.  There are still things that get mentioned that resonate or give me a little epiphany or reinforce something I've known about my own improvising but have been too lazy to address.  I find that helpful, but for the most part, reviews have made me realize that there will never be anything that I do that everyone likes so I should just be as rigorous as I can with myself and let the chips fall where they will.


Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

In the past, there were a couple of writers that I didn't like to look at my records, just because I got the feeling that they didn't get the joy of putting a little effort into listening to music.  I've found that most of them aren't writing anymore and for the most part now, everyone that has written reviews has been honest and thoughtful, whether they like the record or not.  That's all I can ask for as a musician.  I do like a couple of writers specifically, and they don't always like my records, but Stef from freejazz.org , you (of course, and I'm not just kissing up), Massimo Ricci, Dan Warburton, Clifford Allen, Lyn Horton, Derek Taylor.....I just feel like a lot of pride is taken in their work and that they get a certain amount of joy out of unlocking abstract music.


Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

Never after a negative review.  I don't think it accomplishes anything.  I will send a thank you when I see a review, whether it is positive or not.  At least I try to, although I'm a little behind in that these days.  I think it is just a sign of respect.


Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Living in New York, you run across a lot of writers, and of course they become friends of some sort.  I've always had nice conversations with you, for example, but I don't really think about them reviewing my work. 

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

No.


Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

No.


Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

I have never written about music in any serious way.  I don't know why, but it would feel like a conflict of interest to me, so I don't do it.  Plus, what would I say about a record?  I listen to it once and have a certain idea, but I listen again in 6 months and the whole thing is different. 

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I don't really have an opinion on that, to tell you the truth.  I just know my experience and really couldn't comment on other periods, not knowing what the experience was then. 

(Photo: Peter Gannushkin, downtownmusic.net)

20091014

High Bias #5


NAME: Carlos “Zingaro”

HOME: Lisbon

BIO: Born in Lisbon, Portugal. Undertook classical music studies from an early age – violin, pipe organ. Degree in Stage Design Studies at the Lisbon Theatre High School. In the sixties is a member of the Lisbon University Chamber Orchestra, becoming a professional musician at 14 years old. Forms Plexus in 1967, the only Portuguese group at the time to have developed a new musical approach based on contemporary music, improvisation and “rock”. It records a 45 rpm for RCA-Victor in 1968. From 1975 on, begins performing with some of the most important international musicians of free music and improvisation. Is invited to the Wrøclaw Technical University - Poland, and the Creative Music Foundation - Woodstock / New York. Performs at some of the world’s best known music festivals and has about 60 records out, both under his own name and with some of the mentioned musicians’ projects. Is a multimedia artist, founder and president of Granular – a musicians / experimental artists association in Lisbon.

WEBSITE:
http://efi.group.shef.ac.uk/ 
http://www.granular.pt 
http://www.myspace.com/carloszingaro 

Do you read reviews of your work?

Sometimes...

Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

Sometimes... Depending on quotings.

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

I use to say that I’m my “worst” critic as I’m frequently tough on myself...
This meaning that it is very important for me a constructive and analytic review of my work, as I always learn something. Not necessarily to change ways to proceed but mostly as self analysis of what I’m doing or what kind of changes could be introduced. Unfortunately they are very rare the reviewers who have a profound knowledge of historical and aesthetic approaches on writing on a concert or a recording... Most of the times, and understandably because of editorial directives, things tend to be very brief or mostly based on “fait divers” rarely pertaining to sound and music and art making...

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

A lot... Always curious how some good art reviewers, or literature reviewers could relate to a live sound event or a recorded one!
Alas, this rarely happens nowadays as art critics are mostly unaware of what’s happening with music/sound contemporary experiences, unless when done by visual artists...

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?

Nope...

Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Yes...
I’m proud we are friends – they are capable of knowing me and my motivations better than most - but worry about their writing being biased or, mostly, perceived as biased by others.

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?

Nope... If they did, they never told me so.

Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

Some might consider that, writing about someone might get them into some more prestigious platform and so, helping to their curriculum and future image. But this is mostly when the artist is quite famous or about to be a system power icon. I never became such so, I’m of no interest for self promotion...

Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

Nope...
Only when asked by some fellow artists to write some comments or some letter of introduction, and this is quite rare.
When a teenager in the 1960’s, I wrote some stuff on the Beatles – I was much more into the Stones or the Yardbirds and such – and got such a negative reaction that I learned the lesson...

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

To begin with, the amount of records coming out everyday does not allow for a profound analysis of their content if even a single line mention.
The fact that new or experimental music is just a small fringe on the media and mostly covered by hard working militantism, does not help for a wider evaluation of what’s going on.
So, not that much a question of “better or worst”... Just a question of presence and integration with other art forms. Are there as many new music publications as, let’s say, 30 years ago? I don’t think so... More and more music magazines are disappearing, and more and more things are being written on the web. This could be good – problem being that, with the huge amount of web offering, only the truly believers and militants will keep on reading about what concerns their musical choices.

Anything you'd like to add?

Nope, thanks...

Anything you want to ask me?

Thanks and keep on the good work as you are one of the few...

20091009

Take That, Moon!



You'd think they think there's oil there or something...

The one from 107 years ago was more exciting, really.

20091008

They melt in your codpiece, not in your hand.

The sage and inquisitive Marie Evelyn asks me why KISS didn't do an endorsement deal with Hershey's Kisses instead of M&Ms, to which I have no reply. But I do know that there's no damned Wal-Mart anywhere near me which I know we're not supposed to shop there but there's no where else to get them. I'm barely interested in the new album, but I want the goddamned candies.

My Bias


Mistress Katherine is the benefactrix of my show on WFMU (returning to the airwaves this Sunday at midnight), and is a relentless questioner of my actions and motives. She wrote to grill me about these "High Bias" interviews, and I thought I'd answer here.
 

Has anyone ever said your review changed the way he approached his work?

No, but musicians have asked my opinion about what future directions or career moves they should consider.
 
Has anyone asked you to review his work? 

Yup.
 
Has anyone ever written to you about your review of his work? What sort of responses have you received?  Were you surprised by their reaction?  Did they change the way you write your reviews? 

I have occasionally received notes of thanks. I don't recall anyone contacting me directly about a negative review. I have had artists take offense at factual errors, or sometimes what they perceived as factual errors but really amounted to semantic hair-splitting. Over the years I've learned to write less opinion and more context, but I don't think that has much to do with the reactions of anyone in particular.
 
Has anyone ever asked you not to review his work?

One musician made that request to the editor of a publication I write for. He later bummed a cigarette off me, so I think that hatchet's buried.
 
Have you told a friend that you couldn't review his work because you are too close to him?  This question is more interesting to me posed to the music reviewer.  Have you had a friend upset with you for not wanting to get involved "promoting" him?

I've never had the conversation. I assume there's cases where it's clear and understood, and some where it's less so.
 
Has an artist ever accused you?  The question you asked the artists - if they ever felt a writer was trying to get something out of him, or get back at him, or had some ulterior motive in what they wrote.  It sounds like there is a story behind your question.

No real story. But I do wonder a lot about the lines. There are musicians who I like quite a lot and who I am friendly with. I try not to cross what I feel to be lines, but I feel like I exist in an enormous gray area.

When I was doing "straight" journalism, local politics at local papers, the lines were very clear. But in a small, global arts scene it would be weird to be unfriendly or overly formal. I guess that's what prompted me to do this to begin with.