Matthew Shipp Brings His Free Jazz to Houston, Sitting in With The Core Trio

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Photo by Veronica Triplett, courtesy of The Core Trio
The Core Trio with Matthew Shipp

A lot of tinkerers want to fix Houston's jazz scene, but Matthew Shipp says there's no need to break out the toolkit for something that either isn't broken or requires a larger repair than all the city's musical handy men and women can muster.

"So many players come out of there to begin with. As far as national attention, obviously Robert Glasper and Jason Moran come to mind, and let's not forget the great Joe Sample. So, Houston is doing something right."

That's comforting to hear, particularly from someone with Shipp's jazz resume. A New Yorker and a leading figure in the current free jazz scene, Shipp isn't just turning a keen observational eye on the scene here, he'll be part of it, at least for a night, when he plays Ovations Saturday as a special guest of locals, The Core Trio.

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Henry Kaiser, a Werner Herzog Film Producer and Experimental Guitarist, Screens and Plays Along to Crazy Beautiful Shots of Under-the-Ice Antarctica

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Henry Kaiser's underwater footage of the Antarctic has appeared in more films and TV shows than any other underwater cameraman.
Even though he's played with the improvised music legends, appeared on more than 250 records, and lived in California all of his life, Henry Kaiser, whose under-the-Antarctic-ice shots can be seen in several Werner Herzog's films, says that he's 80 percent Antarctica research diver and 20 percent American experimental guitarist.

"In a strange way, I consider myself from Antarctica rather than from California, which is silly because nobody is from there," says Kaiser by phone from his place in Santa Cruz, where he's lived for the past two years after spending most of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Fact: David Dove and Jawwaad Taylor Play a CD-Release Show; Happenstance: It's DJ Screw's Birth Anniversary

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Cover art for David Dove and Jawwaad Taylor's These Are Eyes, See?
A jazz and improvised musician by training, David Dove says that he hadn't planned on incorporating electronics into his trombone playing. "I was never interested in using guitar pedals or effects on my horn," Dove tells Art Attack by phone.

The late DJ Screw steered him toward his electronic experimentation that's been seen and heard in Houston, all over the States, and in Europe.

In 2009, Dove, the main man behind Nameless Sound, started a project called Screwed Anthologies (the band name is based on Ayanna Jolivet McCloud's 2009 exhibit at labotanica) with Lucas Gorham of local heroes Grandfather Child. The duo -- which features trombone, guitar, lap steel guitar, and Screw tracks -- recorded slow-moving improvised music in an ode to the worshipped Robert Earl Davis, Jr., whose 42nd birth anniversary takes place the same night (Saturday, July 20) as Dove and Jawwaad Taylor's CD-release party at Art League Houston.

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Brave New Waves Steps In For Binarium Sound Series

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Paul Connolly (a.k.a. - brightbluebeetle) performs at Super Happy Fun Land.
Paul Connolly, a seven-year vet of Houston's improvised music community, hopes that his recently minted Brave New Waves Sound Series will be up to snuff with the other experimental-music happenings around town.

With his deep knowledge and grasp of electronic music, there shouldn't be any worries.

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An Experiment in Sound at the Orange Show

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Can you immerse an audience in sound? Can you turn a musical composition into an experience akin to something visual, such as a painting or film? Houston-based composer Robert McClure thinks that you can and to prove it, he is premiering his latest project, "Untangle My Tongue," this Friday at the Orange Show.

"Untangle My Tongue" will consist of three pieces of music that celebrate both the "Orange Show's unique space and Houston's natural soundscape." The methods McClure has used to create this work certainly go against the grain. He took some recording equipment and walked around the city capturing all that he heard. Cars, traffic, the MetroRail and the buzzing of wildlife are all incorporated into the piece. The Orange Show itself was another inspiration. "While my sounds were deliberately ordered, Houston, a character in itself, will provide an improvisatory element for this performance," says McClure.

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Jaap Blonk Presents a Dada Work That's on Par With Duchamp and Breton

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Jaap Blonk
Damon Smith, a Houston-based double bass player and visual artist, completely remembers the first time he heard an interpretation of Kurt Schwitters's Ursonate, a piece of Dada art that's the sonic equivalent of the readymades of Marcel Duchamp in terms of scope and impact.

"I think to have a sound poem organized in sonata form is ground breaking," says Smith, who first heard the piece performed by Eberhard Blum on a hatART record.

Smith is one of the individuals responsible for bringing Jaap Blonk, who will present Schwitters's sonata that's entirely constructed out of phonetics, to Rice University on Tuesday. Blonk, a Dutch composer, musician and poet, is one of the best performers of the Dada-era piece that should be in the same conversation as visual heavyweights Man Ray and André Breton.

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Ayman Harper Returns to Houston with Matmos

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Ayman Harper in (theLID
Thanks to dancer Ayman Harper, Matmos will perform for the first time in Houston this weekend. All it took was for Harper to miss a concert by the popular Matador Records-signed electronic music duo that has done work for Björk.

A few years ago, Harper -- a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts who relocated to Berlin, Germany, to pursue a full-time freelancing career in dance and performance theater -- cycled by Berlin's Babylon Theater and noticed the band's name on the marquee. A fan of the Baltimore-based group for years, Harper tried to catch the end of the performance but was too late.

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Pauline Oliveros Talks Houston Improv, Her Mother's Death and the Essence of Latency

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Pretty much everything has changed since Pauline Oliveros left Houston in 1949 to seek out a music that would later inspire her Deep Listening Institute. Everything except for latency, which, in the sound world, refers to the millisecond delay between when a sound materializes from a system and when that audio signal arrives in an invisible plane. This occurs in all sorts of audio systems, ranging from digital signal processing to the speed of sound in air.

"Anything we do has got latency," Oliveros tells Art Attack by phone from her Kingston, New York home. "We are made out of latency. We even have latency between our ears."

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Nameless Sound Returns with an Experimental Music/Video Performance

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Courtesy of Nameless Sound
Keith Rowe and Kjell Bjørgeengen
Nameless Sound, after spending the summer chillin'-ish out, is getting back into experimental-programming mode by bringing "the godfather of electro-acoustic improvisation" and a master sculpture of the "flicker image" over from Europe for a rare performance.

Keith Rowe -- a United Kingdom-based tabletop guitarist who lays his ax flat, prepares the instrument with objects and bends sound with effects pedals and mixers -- has a brief history of Houston performances, according to Nameless Sound head honcho David Dove. "Once with AMM in the late '90s and three times previously with NS, most recently at the Rothko Chapel in 2007," says Dove.

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Binarium Sound Series, Now With TV Program

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Jonathan Jindra
The Core Trio at a recent Binarium shindig.
Europe has it. So does Japan. The States? Not so much...and that's lame.

When I interviewed Sonny Rollins years back, the veteran saxophonist said the main reason American-based jazz and creative music isn't really in the public consciousness is because there aren't any television programs devoted to the subject. Using Japan's love of the form as an example, Rollins, while on tour in that part of the planet, lamented about tuning in to several television programs, where a host would play a jazz record and then rap about it afterward.

That obviously doesn't happen in this country very often (if at all?), but that's about to change in Houston.

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