ImprovFriday Exposition: June 5, 2009

viola1ImprovFriday was particularly fun yesterday and very busy. A big welcome to Vanessa Rossetto, who provided a beautifully aching improvasition for viola.  Not in the romantic sense, but as if she were deconstructing the viola and every so often we hear the instrument speak one sentence, perhaps explaining the meaning for its existence.

Special thanks to James Ross who came up with no less than three improvs yesterday. The first two were mellow guitar improvs: Zhongruan improvs#1 and Zhongruan #2, recorded on the balcony of the hotel James was vacationing at while in the Jamaican countryside last week. The third was The Birds of Hell: James described the improv as “some chaotic lunacy,” and he was right on in my opinion. Very cool tune. Alun Vaughan brought us one of the smoothest improvs I have heard in awhile called “The Caves,” bass + eBow + reverb is how Alun described it. Listen to it, amazing improv and technically flawless. Jeff Harrington played a possessed improv that displays his brushing up of late on the keyboard with “Noise Dance Improvisation,” in which he described as “a chaotic, cycling, monophonic machine spinning out of control.” Steve Moyes played a looped electric guitar improv called “ Loop of the Day.” It starts out with blips and bleeps, adds a dash (or strong dose) of electronic buzzing + a cup or two of charismatic guitar solo and licks and skillfully blends it all together. Charles Turner made me laugh with the description of his 2-Minute Improv. “Sometimes these things don’t turn out so well,” Charles explained. Quirky, imaginative and somber is how I would describe it.  Jukka-Pekka Kervinen Improv #12 For Five Instruments is an assortment of improvs all at once!  A real delight.  That closes out all the solo improvisations.  Phew!

Now onto the collaborative improvisations, a new function of ImprovFriday. Lee Noyes mentioned we should give it a go over at the ImprovFriday Group in the style of Cadavre Esquis, a group headed by Phil Hargreaves. The idea is to place a “seed” consisting of a sonic bare idea for anyone to download and add onto. This musical improv game has an interesting history. Translated to English the name means exquisite corpse and dates back to the surrealists (1918) to John Cage and Lou Harrison and so on. I have a little experience myself with Leif Jordansson’s group called “Open Source Composition.”

Lee realized that my improv, The Hypnotic Ice Ant, from last week was minimal enough to work as a seed and added onto it with two versions titled simply, “Ice Ant #1 and Ice Ant #2.” Lee added percussion to #1 and piano to #2. Greg Hooper added guitar to #1. At the same time Steve Layton added to #1 as well. Paul Hertz made a trippy mix of both. I have pretty good taste and don’t casually use the term Amaranth, but I’d say the final versions fit that description and are indeed treasures.

An ordered list of the final versions:

Ice Ant #1 by JC Combs, Lee Noyes, Steve Layton

Ice Ant #1 by JC Combs, Lee Noyes, Steve Layton, Greg Hooper

Ice Ant #1 by JC Combs, Lee Noyes, Greg Hooper

Ice Ant #1 Mix by JC Combs, Lee Noyes, Greg Hooper, Paul Hertz

Ice Ant #2 by JC Combs, Lee Noyes

The Ice Ant #1 Mix Screen Shot taken by Paul Hertz



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