“With this collection J.C. Combs revels in the splendor of lush tones.”  – Beach Sloth    Read full review

I finally was able put together an album of improvisations performed over the last year (Cellar Door Records).  Also included are a couple works, “Currents” and “Elevator to the Moon.”  In the near future I will be releasing an album of sound art-related works titled “Songs of the Singularity.”  Stay tuned.  – JC

One of the finest new music releases this year came via the NIWO label, a set of 12 improvisations from pianist Benjamin Smith.  I think of Benjamin as a modern day Chopin, the way he masters both the melody and harmony of an improvisation.  The music is straight up jazz at the intersection of classical music (new music).

Benjamin had this to say about the release:

I’m a music feeler and improviser interested in spreading the learning and practice of music improvisation (not only jazz) in the world. In 2006 I decided to awaken my musicianship and find an organization that shares and promotes improvisation in music for anyone interested, so I joined David Darling’s Music for People — a nontechnical, non-genre community — and am a Mentor in the leadership program.”

I am interested in expanding and facilitating improvisation, collaborating with others who passionately share what they do in art, health, or any field that promotes healthy collaboration in a community.”

Click here for a sample:  October 20th, 2009

Musical Therapy

November 22, 2009

Ophelia Steve Layton (feat. Paul Muller, Lee Noyes, Steve Moyes, J.C. Combs)

She Noticed the Color of Her Eyes – JC Combs, Joseph Benzola, Lee Noyes, Benjamin Smith

I would like to share two works from this week’s ImprovFriday session, exact opposites and I have realized they work as therapy, especially if listened to back to back. Heaven and Hell. Lets start with Hell. The first is “She Noticed the Color of Her Eyes.” The exact moment in time where a woman fell in love. Its a big mash of Joseph Benzola, Lee Noyes, and Benjamin Smith with serious tweaking on my part and employing the addition of found sounds. I combined all three of Joe’s works he submitted to IF and at one point spaced two side by side. I tweaked the volume level to lower and rise and switched the sound direction to pan. I also added the effect “a cold house – reverb” . For Lee’s percussion improv, I added “formant frenzy” from the echo chamber. For Ben’s electronic organ impro, I tweaked the volume as well but here’s the catch, I added the sweeping phaser “red pill/blue.”

Once you listened to that, its time to shake off any anxiety or tension with Steve Layton’s “Ophelia.” A mash of Paul Muller, Lee Noyes, Steve Moyes, and myself — Steve says “crazy, but quietly and sweetly so.”

I hope the therapy worked.  For more, head over here.   ImprovFriday

Steve Moshier – The Calling – improvfriday (9/25/09)

Steve Moyes – Sycamore

Alun Vaughan – Just a Phase

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen – Impro 09/25/09

Lee Noyes – Clustering

Johnny & Faith – Improv 9/25/09 theramin

Benjamin Smith – Ben.improv.Sep.20.2009

Shane W. Cadman – Piece 092509

Steve Layton – 1.  Spaceship (attribution to Benjamin Smith, Lee Noyes, Steve Moshier, Token Wonder).  2.  The Library of Babel (attribution to Adam Kondor, Benjamin Smith, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Shane W. Cadman).  3.  All Through the Night (attribution to Jeff Harrington, Steve Moshier, Token Wonder, Build, Roman Opalka).

Adam Kondor – SuperBrand

Jeffrey Harrington – Thunder – Sanibel Island – 7-25-09

Paul Muller – 9/26/09

JC Combs – September 25, 2009 with War of the Worlds Fake News Cast (Attribution to Lee Noyes, Jeffrey Harrington)

Greg Hooper – Limit (video impro)

Bruce Hamilton –  Fole-felu improv part 1 – Fole-felu improv part 2 (Attribution to Jeff Harrington, Steve Moyes)

Shane Cadman – Improvisation 8.7.09

Benjamin Smith – Ben.improv.July.31.2009.080709

Bruce Hamilton – Pastorale Improv

Charles Turner – Burrowing

JC Combs – Improvisation 8.7.09

Paul Hertz – Sages Leave Their Contemplations

Johnny & Faith – Hiding From Grandma by Token Wonder

David Toub – For Roger Copland

Paul Muller – Three Bar Transform

Thomas Bjørnseth – Episode 8-9

James Ross – Wayfarin’ Improv

Bruce Hamilton – Clocker Improv

Dave Seidel – Sisters and Brothers Live at the Starving Artist, July 16, 2009

Steve Moyes – Untitled Improvisation

David Toub – For Philip Glass

Alun Vaughan – Untilted Rendered

JC Combs – 4/17/09improv

Paul Muller – Stuck in Four

Benjamin Smith – Vocal Impro7/15/09

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen – Use of Period

Paul Hertz – Polymetric Phrygian Plainchant

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz – Crying Hard

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


#improvfriday – Twitter

March 14, 2009

Our third week of nonpop improvisation on Twitter (a Stweet Art Collective) got just a little larger yesterday, 3-13-09.  I learned a couple things which I am kind of embarrassed to admit.  Randy Gibson asked what our hashmark should be.  Well, I didn’t know what a hashmark was, but I had an idea since I had seen people posting with a # in front.  Basically, its like a brand name that you don’t need to register.  Its tricky coming up with the name, since you want it to not only explain what is going on, but also keep it short enough so you’re not typing all 140 characters in the hashmark.

We decided on #improvfriday.  This is very easy to use and understand.  Twitter is gaining popularity because of their Twitter Search.  It works like Google, but updates results faster and has a unique way of informing since so many people on Twitter are updating on traffic, lines, weather, news, sports, etc.  So to find out about improvisation Friday, you open up the Twitter Search on the bottom of your Twitter page and type in #improvfriday.  You will get this result.

#improvfriday 3-13-2009

Jeff Harrington got the ball rolling with “Improvisation on Three Notes – for a pseudo-African instrument and echo box.”  Joseph Benzola commented that it sounded like Moroccan Trance.

We had two new additions.  Randy Gibson, who gave us a really great older improv, Mujeres de Juárez, and Jukka-Pekka Kervinen who submitted a brilliant improv titled, A Computer Improvisation for Five Instruments.

Paul Hertz submitted another strong work, a cool experimental harp improvisation, March Number 13 for Locrian Harp.  A low hum accompanies the harp which provides unceasing tension.  I submitted Provi III, an electronic dronish improv performed with the Arturian Moog Modular.