The Fortune Hits The Road

With exactly two weeks before I hit the road with a pair of Florida electronic musicians to perform live versions of The Fortune, there is far too much to do. Using graphic scores and hand signals, the live version of the improvised music/spoken work collaboration between myself and writer John Ajac will be stretched into many different forms. Although John will not be able to make the mini-tour, his voice will be there.

Traveling with Lucy Bonk (homemade electronics, percussion), Keaton Orsborn (electronics, manipulated field recordings) and Jadi Lane (projection, documentation) will definitely be an adventure. We perform at Columbia, South Carolina’s Conundrum on Thursday, February 23. This will be the premier performance and since we have not performed together previously, it will be a new experience for all of us.

With just enough time to make it up the east coast, weather permitting, Saturday, February 25 will find us at The Stone in the East Village of Manhattan performing the 10pm slot. There, we will be adding percussionist Mario Schambon to the ensemble.

Thanks go out to Al Margolis for the invitation to participate in the Pogus curated events at The Stone, and to Tom Law for giving us the opportunity to perform at Conundrum.

As far as other things going on: Crater Tater will be performing at the Copper Rocket next weekend, The Delusionaires one-time only reunion on March 2nd, Laboratory Music #5 March 3rd in Gainesville, and I am in the process of working out the details for my chance operation performance at CageFest, a weeklong event in Jacksonville celebrating the 100th birthday of John Cage, in late March. I am hoping to present a wind and brass quartet. Stay tuned.

Now, back to work before I get too far behind…

Nice Words From New York City’s DMG

The Fortune is now available at Downtown Music Gallery in NYC. As with all releases they offer, the staff, headed by Bruce Gallanter, writes reviews and gives insight into the release. Thanks for the kind words!

JIM IVY/JOHN AJAC – The Fortune (Ilse 25; USA) Jim Ivy on alto & soprano saxes, feedback, oscillators, real & sampled piano & gamecalls and John Ajac on voice & text. I’ve known Florida-based improviser Jim Ivy since the early days of the Victo Festival when we met in the late eighties. He has collaborated with Davey Williams as well as a number of players from the Orlando area. I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Ajac before this but he does offer some interesting words to this disc. I’ve heard Jim play sax in the past but here he is concentrating on a variety of soundscapes. This disc includes four pieces which are titled acts like in a play. “Act One: The Devices of Wicked Men” features some eerie waves of feedback while John describes the last thoughts and words of a captured Native American. The feedback builds and expands in shifting layers and is used most effectively. It is rare to hear anyone else besides John Zorn playing mouthpieces & gamecalls but this is what Mr. Ivy does so well on a few of these pieces, often recalling the time when Mr. Zorn played reeds mostly this way. Half of these pieces are instrumental and do a fine job of exploring and setting the mood in between the others acts. Each act describes a scene or short story with compelling backing from Mr. Ivy’s thoughtful and often hypnotic sonic palette. Mr. Ajac’s words dip into some wild west-like imagery providing us with different scenes to contemplate. A strong duo offering from a couple of freaks in Florida.

– Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

First Review of The Fortune

Released on the Ilse label a little over a month ago The Fortune, a collaboration between myself and writer John Ajac, has slowly started showing up in the hands of music critics and reviewers. The following review comes courtesy of Vital Weekly, a weekly webcast,  which is free to download.

Also improvised but then of a different nature is a duo disc by John Ajac, who wrote a bunch of text and speaks them, along with music by Jim Ivy, who plays alto and soprano saxophone, feedback mixer, dual oscillators, real and sampled piano, sampler, mouthpieces and gamecalls. If I’m correct – which I usually am not – the story is about the goldrush. I am not too fond of spoken word CDs, although Ajac tells it with quite a nice voice. The music, however, is very nice. It is improvised but doesn’t rely on one instrument at a time. Ivy’s playing is at times loud, pure sinewave-like with noisy outbursts. Maybe some of the machines are on auto-play, while Ivy plays on top. He makes some interesting music that fits very well with the story. He plays the saxophone in a more traditional way, but the electronic parts make up for a more experimental play in the total picture of music and text. I think this is a great release, but not one that I would play very often. That’s not due to the music, but more of the spoken word, which, again, is not bad, but not something I’d like to hear a lot. (FdW)

I wish to thank Vital Weekly for taking the time to listen to my work. One note, the story is not about the goldrush. It is about the hanging of an Indian medicine man and what happens as a consequence.

I think it is a damn positive review. I knew it would not be for everyone, with spoken word as the main collaboration. On the other hand, I think it will reach into a different area of audience. That is my hope.

Upcoming Shows

As the year winds down I have a few shows around Florida to let you know about.

First up is a trio with Bryan Eubanks (Brooklyn, NY) and Kris Gruda (Winter Park, FL) at [Blank Space] Gallery & Lounge in Orlando on Friday, December 9th. Bryan Eubanks is focused on collaborative improvisation, solo musical projects, and sound installations. He has performed his work in live settings across the US, Europe, Japan, and Korea. Originally interested in the saxophone, his work has expanded to include computer music and instruments of his own design that incorporate open-circuits, samplers, radio transmission, and other electronics. More details to come.

Kris Gruda is a musician, musicologist, sound experimenter and explorer of space(s). His primary instruments are guitar and voice. He can aslo be heard on electronics, cassette tape recorder/player, kazoos, keyboards, objects, alternative plectrums (such as seashell or stone), bass guitar, ukulele, slide whistle, found objects/percussion, environmental and incidental sounds.

Next up is a mini-tour of two shows in a trio context with Wade Matthews (Madrid, Spain) and Jill Burton (Gainesville, FL): Sunday, December 11, 8:00pm at The Thomas Center in Gainesville, FL and Monday, December 12, 7:30pm at Urban ReThink in Orlando, FL.

American improviser, composer and author, Wade Matthews, has been living in Madrid, Spain, since 1989. Electronic music influences all of his work where he emphasizes the nature of sound as matter unto itself rather than as simply material from which to generate phrases. He is especially interested in the permeability of sound and sonic discourse to its surroundings and has extensively explored numerous aspects of site-specific improvisation. In 2007, he began to combine field recordings with electronic synthesis in a 2-computer setup that has since become his main instrument.

Jill Burton is a singular and extraordinary performance artist, vocalist, dancer and energy worker who has been consciously synthesizing her art form for over 40 years. She has developed such a unique style that it is difficult if not impossible to label or categorize her work. Performance healing? Energy art? Improv shamanism? With an extensive background in many traditional and modern music and dance techniques, she has always held a special interest in experimental performance and free improvisation. She has also studied and practiced many bodywork, energy work and spiritual healing modalities, always incorporating these with her performance work.

And one final duo show on Saturday, December 17 as part of Hal McGee’s Apartment Music series in Gainesville, FL. I will be partnering with the marvelous Ironing (Andrew Chadwick). It will also be available to view via The festivities will run from 3:00-5:00pm.

That should take us to the end of 2011. 2012 has much in store, including a late February performance of “The Fortune” at The Stone in New York City. But that is another post for another time.

The Fortune – now available from ILSE

A noose can bring about a lot of changes.

The Fortune is a contemporary take on Western Americana storytelling. The tale is sprinkled with shamanic mysticism and vivid depictions, told not only through the voice of the storyteller, but by the use of conversing electronics and reed instruments.

“An aural dialogue that portrays a story upon a sound canvas” was the initial concept that led to The Fortune. Story written and spoken by John Ajac. Conceived, arranged and performed by Jim Ivy.

Available directly from the ILSE music website for a mere $7. Buy one for yourself and one for a friend. Secret Santa everyone a copy.

Update, End of October

As October closes there are a number of items just starting up.

Last week saw the release of Sangha Uvtha Saikee, a trio recording, double CD from Kris Gruda, Mario Schambon and myself. This release on Bipediment Recordings can be purchased for as small an amount as $4 for download or $8, shipping included, for physical CD.

Soon to be released on ILSE is The Fortune by John Ajac and myself. You can read about the release and the ILSE label here.

Danny Feedback’s Crack Rock Opera will begin its three weeks of Saturdays on November 5th at the Parliament House. For advance ticket orders call the Bread and Circuses box office on 1-800-691-5131.

One of my pieces is included on a compilation CD  from the great ILSE label. The track, Upon Returning, can be heard here. The compilation entitled Little Bunny Was So Happy: Experimental Music From Florida is chock full of excellent improvised and experimental music tracks.

On October 24th I performed a solo saxophone/electronics/laptop live soundtrack to a short film by the Quay Brothers titled Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies (1987) at Urban ReThink. It was a very satisfying performance and began sparking ideas for my next project. Stay tuned.

And above all, I wanted to point out and thank the photographers whose works are used on this website: Kris Gruda and Anna Funk. Kris Gruda is a musical cohort of mine and an amazing guitarist and improvisor. Anna Funk is an outstanding photographer and creative mind. She has a seriously keen eye and catches the deepest of moments. Thank you both very much.

Back To Work

Now that “The Fortune” is in the can and awaiting release on ILSE Music, it’s back to work on the shelved Bipediment Recordings releases that were placed on hold during post production of “The Fortune”.

First up is a double CD release of raw power from a trio of myself, Kris Gruda, and Mario Schambon. The trio recorded the day after my first curated event in 2010 at Stardust Coffee and Video called WMD 1, which took place on August 7.

WMD-1 was arranged so that each improvising performer was able to collaborate with the  performer before them, play a solo piece, then perform with the next improviser, and so on. This made for interesting duos, as well as allowing everyone solo performances.

Mario, whom I have known since the late 1990’s when we played together in Numb Right Thumb, was down here in Florida visiting from Atlanta. The show was initially set up so he and I could perform together. Kris Gruda, who has also been friends with Mario for some time, was added, and it grew from there.

The session that took place the next night was set up by Kris at his rehearsal space. It was truly an epic evening of improvisation.

I decided to title the CD “Sangha Uvtha Saikee”, phonetical spelling of sangha of the psyche, or loosely translated, brotherhood in consciousness.

“Sangha Uvtha Saikee” will be available through the Bipediment online ordering service or directly from me on October 15, 2011. It is a double CD release costing a mere $7.00.

Awaiting “The Fortune”

Down to final mixes for the upcoming ILSE release entitled “The Fortune”, a collaboration with author John Ajac. Packaging artwork is completed and should be off to the printer soon.

I had been kicking around ideas for working with spoken text for about a year. Initially, I was creating a large-scale improvisational composition based on and using text by the Japanese author Akiko Yosano and her epic collection of tanka called “Midaregami” (Tangled Hair). At around the same time I was formulating a concept for a multi-media performance using various short stories and thrift store purchased color slide photos that would, more or less, coincide with the story premise. Also, around the same time, a good friend of mine, Patrick Greene, became the booking manager for a performance space in Orlando named Urban ReThink. Although Urban ReThink presents a wide variety of arts, its main focus is on literary events. Yet another event occurred at about the same time, I was reacquainted with an old friend of mine, John Ajac, who is an author of high quality, yet was relatively unknown. Too many coincidences for it not to be destined.

As both the large-scale composition and the multi-media performance were in the conceptual stage, I decided a new direction was preferred and discussed the idea of both projects with John to use his works.

And then the final piece fell into place: ILSE Music. Travis Johnson, an outstanding improvisor and the owner of the ILSE label, asked if I would like to release something on his label. By the way, check out the releases. It’s quite an honor to be on the ILSE label.

“The Fortune” is based upon the short story written by John Ajac. From the beginning I decided I wanted John to read the text. His delivery is perfect. The arrangement and musical accompaniment is unlike anything I’ve done previously.

“The Fortune” will be available soon. Know this for a fact: I will make sure you all know when it is released.