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felicitywebFelicity, born gullible, travelled to Tlor (The Land of Rules) gathering elusive knowledge and the curious skills of desire. In Tlor (The Land of Rules) Felicity met some generous people, and she met frightened ones. “We will share our elusive knowledge, and our curious skills” the generous people said. “But” said the frightened ones, “You must be one of us, or we will never speak again to you ever”. Sad Felicity did not understand this blinding orthodoxy. And then rules colonised her gullible travels. After many, many years, joy unravelled the fighting rules using analytical tools the elusive knowledge gives. But she was very sad. Time passed before the sadness lifted, and Felicity understood how the generous, the ones who grow, although some died a long time ago, remain constant familiars. Ann Newdigate – Gullible’s Travels – A Morality Tale series (#1)

Surprising how ready transmogrification is, allowing movement between seemingly unrelated actions and places. Plettenberg Bay (South Africa), Toronto, Hornby Island (Canada), Kyoto (Japan), Lisbon, Montemor-o-Novo (Portugal)… Just a click to activate the journey. Off we go then…

A sunny afternoon in the garden of South African-born artist Ann Newdigate, a select group seated about her cliffside table, a view out across Little Tribune Bay. On this afternoon a safe haven for dozens of sail boats, visiting. We’ve gathered together, Julian – Ann’s son – his daughter Gabrielle and us two, Sheila and me.

Topics range about, an important factor being that Julian is from away, Toronto his home, so for a change, at a island gathering, the topics leave the dreary colloquial history and rumours that thrive so eagerly. An outside frame of reference. Urban. Sat, relaxing over a glass of wine, later, in the comfort of the drawing room, Julian offers two CDs in almost plain brown wrappers, a secret not so easily disclosed. A friend, now living in Japan, a mate from a youthful past, a musician whose ideas have changed radically, along with cohorts, is the initiator.

Julian met Tim Olive at the University of Saskatchewan, finding himself at the same shows and parties, delighting in Tim’s infectious conversations, delighting in his wry humour. Every day for hours Tim would practice electric bass, search out wide ranging eclectic musical information, even traipsing down to the public library to read Coda Magazine. At this time Saskatchewan had trouble hanging on to its young people, many of them moving on, Tim Olive to Montreal joining the band Art Farm. But even this was not enough for his ongoing search causing him to relocate to Japan. One impetus for his move to the music he nows plays was damage to his wrist tendons, challenging himself playing Bela Bartok on his bass.

From his website: Tim Olive has been writing about himself in the third person since the beginning of this century, when he left his minimal-prog-noise-rock band Nimrod, rejecting periodic rhythms and tempered pitch in favour of improvisation and open forms, exploring the full sonic possibilities of steel strings, magnetic pickups and simple analog electronics.


I’ve changed my walks now that fall has descended, wandering the miles of footpaths and trails that twist and turn though the verdant woods, the paths covered with falling maple leaves, mushrooms of every shape, colour and size popping up in the most unexpected places. Our resident physician Doctor John observed, through his otoscope, scarring on my ear drums, likely brought about by listening to too loud music. Did I mention before that I’d purchased an iPod, small enough to fit into the back pocket of my jeans, the new Sennheiser CX 175 ear canal phones fitting snugly, focussing the detailed language of this music that I’ve scant experience of. Outside of my “normal” jazz sensibilities.

In mathematics and physics, the term “generator” or “generating set” may refer to any of a number of related concepts. The underlying concept in each case is that of a smaller set of objects, together with a set of operations that can be applied to it, that result in the creation of a larger collection of objects, called the “generated set”. The larger set is then said to be “generated by” the smaller set. It is commonly the case that the generating set has a simpler set of properties than the generated set, thus making it easier to discuss and examine. It is usually the case that properties of the generating set are in some way preserved by the act of generation; likewise, the properties of the generated set are often reflected in the generating set.

walkingawaywebMay 2000 it was when I travelled to the Victoriaville festival in Quebec to hear music outside of jazz. It’s true there were friends performing, about whom I have no opinion; the Pauls Cram and Plimley, Johnny O, the wonderful pianisms of Cecil Taylor and Marilyn Crispell, but the only group impressing me with information past my already formed knowledge was Konk Pack with me old mate percussionist Roger Turner’s internal rapidity placed between the analogue synthesiser of Thomas Lehn and social anthropologist Tim Hodgkinson’s clutter of electronic gismos, laptop guitar and clarinet. Though this might be too exuberant as comparison in this particular investigation.

And years before that an introduction to the eclectic possibilities produced by Fred Frith eliciting unidentifiable sound from his guitars in duet with turntablist Christian Marclay at the very same festival in Quebec.

It would appear that there are a few recordings in my collection that have prepared me for this sonic caper, possibly John Cage’s composition Two4 performed as duet either on cello and accordion or violin and sho; but I think not. This example, although outside of the mainstream still relies on a more traditional platform. Acoustic. The slow fragile landscapes enveloping me with fanciful Zen postulation, perfect in length for one of my walks that takes me down through the fields to the ferry dock, out along the cliff walk to Ford Cove, often to visit Michael Hornsby; artist, musician, friend. There will be more about him in a future posting.

There are two recordings of Tim Olive, the first with Katsura Mouri suitably titled “Various Histories”. Tim Olive’s history you already know, more or less, and Katsura Mouri, a Japanese sound sculptor utilising random objects placed on turntables works in a variety of disciplines, one interesting example being the discovery of a project where she works with Shinbun Onna (aka “Newspaper Lady”) who utilises newspapers as a material for improvised dress-making.

This excursion of five pieces over a period of 35 minutes could be interpreted as an introduction to its content, the untitled compositions ranging in length from a brief 1:47 to an extended outing of 15:20. How to describe what evolves however is problematic as the music is not related to my personal experiences as a reviewer. Perhaps it is not possible to objectively utilise written language in the examination of these somewhat idiosyncratic performances, as the form, if indeed there is a form, relies entirely on their immediate interaction.

Over several days, wandering about through my own personal space up here on the mountainside I’ve saturated myself with these recordings, allowed them to infiltrate my consciousness exclusively, the only other stimulation being the physical environment of the sun flickering through the trees, colours mostly, objects – natural shapes and sizes changing slowly without me recognising their extent. As a forest is able to do. The path, littered with broken debris from the wind that I cannot hear. Through the usefulness of the computer which is being used as a typewriter and a sound projection device simultaneously it is possible to immerse ones self; the ear canal phones still implanted.

Gurgling, bubbling rumbles setting long lower bands, splashing ripples of interference flicking about the sonic landscaped; the rhythm, if there is such, too subtle to define as metre, and pitch sliding far away from any scalular methodology. Tonight the house grumbles, old window frames, door hinges, the tin chimney all responding to the storm that is brewing, the wind beginning its low howl, out back the forest takes on a symphony of rubbing, creaking, an occasional startling – something snapping as the elements take control. More like this than anything a Jewish Tin Pan Alley composer produced. Or as Tim Olive sez on his web page: “The density of the air and the heavy fug of heat is fully present in these five untitled tracks, with distant thunder tumbling down the mountainsides and sudden nearby rumblings charged by brutal flashes of electricity, gritty heat-static and the relentless life-song of subtropical summer. Or perhaps it’s all coincidence…” Perhaps too personal to allow any outside participation, especially from a potential cynic. On I must go though, investigate until all my curiosity is fulfilled.

The second duet (33 Bays) with Tim Olive and Alfredo Costa Monteiro ushers me deeper, activates with another click the entrance to the next world, one that has not yet been discussed, taking one more step toward my eventual objective –Portugal – Alfredo Costa Monteiro’s birthplace.

This time there are only two pieces spanning 44 minutes, one 27:51 the other 15:51, and the resulting improvisations quite different from the preceding duet. This time, or so it seems to me, the result is more electronic, both the players wrestling with each other, invading territories, turbulent and unsettled forays taking place in some gigantic empty and ancient holding, a stone warehouse, an abandoned storage tank or as one reviewer has suggested – “hollow metal bars tossed down an empty, linoleum-tiled hallway”. But then, as I’ve said, I have no suitable lexicon to describe their soundscapes. So on we go…


The other half of this story revolves about a book that my friend Stuart Broomer has sent me as a gift: Arrival/Departures – New Horizons in Jazz published by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, accompanied by Fabula, a compact disc featuring Axel Dorner, Ernesto Rodrigues, Abdul Moimeme and Ricardo Guerreiro. The project is in celebration of Jazz em Agosto’s 30th edition. In the introduction Artur Santos Silva, the Foundation’s president, has written:

“We invited three critics and thinkers of contemporary jazz, Stuart Broomer, Brian Morton and Bill Shoemaker, to prepare short essays on 50 musicians who left their mark during the thirty editions of Jazz em Agosto, unveiling influences and paths, revealing the multiple musical osmoses at play.”

When jazz books arrive in the mail my inclination is to turn to the back, the index, and check if my name is listed. Hopeful as always to satiate my sagging ego. And not to forget that more than half of the featured musicians are in some way connected to my past. Familiars. More importantly though the index in this case are the programs from the thirty years being celebrated; the list of musicians mouth-watering. The first year (1984) seems to feature only Portuguese(!) players, modest events taking place over four evenings in August, but as one scans the ensuing pages the modest beginning flourishes into a veritable cornucopia of delight. Too many to list, but just to give a notion of the wonderfulness, how about Sun Ra, Steve Lacy, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cecil and Ornette, Jimmy Guiffre, George Russell, Willem Breuker, Mike Westbrook, Max Roach, Reggie Workman and Dave Holland, Elvin Jones, Leroy Jenkins and Anthony Braxton, Amira Baraka and the New York Art Quartet – more and more as we move into the 2000s with Matthew Shipp, Marilyn Crispell; even a Canadian contingent in 2004 with Peggy Lee, François Houle, Paul Cram’s Orchestra and NOW with guest George Lewis. Evan Parker, Globe Unity, Bill Dixon and Dave Douglas – a never ending list of brilliant players that it is nigh on impossible to hear perform in North America. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that you are already planning next year’s vacation to Lisbon.

Mouth watering these lists may be, but the substance of the book is a series of succinct portraits (50), including recommended recordings, of most of the important musicians to have furthered the language of jazz, assisted in moving it on past retrogressive repetition, performed at Jazz em Agosto. A perfect group of artists, chronicled by three intelligent respected essayists.

dornerwebAnd then there is the compact disc (Fabula – 220 CD creative sources recordings) inviting you into another world altogether, sounds that it would be simple (minded) to align with the two preceding recordings of Tim Olive. This would be an error. Here we have what only superficially appears as electronic generated sound, that possible character altered considerably by the instrumental configuration of the quartet. I am unable to discern clearly what portion Ricardo Guerreiro’s computer occupies, possibly processing or manipulating; the other three: Axel Dörner – trumpet, Ernesto Rodrigues – viola and Abdul Moimême – prepared electric guitar taking the “music” into what is more likely described as electro-acoustic. It brings to me the feeling of outdoors, walking streets at various times; the bustle of traffic, murmuring water flowing lazily beneath a bridge, low flying aircraft – a forty-seven minute soundscape of sounds of the city. Semi-industrial I’ve read it described as. There is a link, as previously mentioned, fragile as it might be, that Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Tim Olive’s companion on 33 bays, is originally from Lisbon. I wonder!

As I’ve mentioned before there is some difficulty for me to convert these ongoing cobbled-together spontaneous sounds into words. Today, more than a month on, there is a gentle mist about, the air containing its dampness, and as I walk along the forest paths, their verges littered with an amazing array of wilting fungi, this pleasurable information seeping into my consciousness becomes a quite suitable companion. Again Familiars.

But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself.

End Notes:
Ann Newdigate: http://annnewdigate.ca
Tim Olive & Katsura Mouri: http://timolive.org
Tim Olive CDs: http://845audio.org/contact-order/
Alfredo Costa Monteiro: http://www.costamonteiro.net
Fabula: http://www.creativesourcesrec.com
Konk Pack (From my collection – Big Deep & Off Leash):
John Cage – Two4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLOrpd5onCs
Arrivals/Departures: New Horizons in Jazz
Contact the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation at montra@gulbenkian.pt
The book and CD is EUR 34.50 (Approximately CDN $50.00) including international shipping.

Felicity photograph William E. (Bill) Smith
Roger Turner and Bill Smith photograph Sheila Macpherson
Axel Dörner photograph William E. (Bill) Smith