It is hard to believe that the Victo Festival has survived for three decades, considering how much avant-garde/experimental/progressive/free-jazz they have presented in that time. No doubt the festival founder/organizer Michel Levasseur had any clue that the Victo Fest would continue to bring together challenging music for serious listeners for so long. Each year he and his dedicated staff struggle to work miracles. I, myself, have been attending since 1988 and never miss any Victo Fest since I know that it is time well spent listening hard, discussing & arguing with friends and thinking about what went down for the rest of the year. Besides the twenty sets of music to choose from, there is an important social aspect of this fest since there are a number of friends we share this experience with, some of whom we only see once a year when we are here.
With its timbral versatility and expansive range of tones, the harp is an instrument well-suited to avant-garde and experimental music. Like any other string instrument—but perhaps even more so—it can be prepared, struck, plucked, bowed and otherwise played in any number of conventional and unconventional ways. On this new release from Shhpuma harpist Eduardo Raon covers a gamut of approaches to the instrument, retaining its natural voice at times and at other times modifying its sound not only with a repertoire of extended techniques but with extensive electronic manipulation as well. Raon, a native of Portugal now residing in Ljubljana, creates an eclectic if sometimes fragmentary sound world with the twelve tracks presented here. But no matter what kind of sound modification is used, the focus stays on the acoustic properties of the harp in all of their dimensions. Field recordings of cicadas and laughter round out the imaginative set of sounds Raon assembles.
B’Shnorkestra, Go to Orange
FBB: Sibelius-Akatemian Folk Big Band
EITR, Trees Have Cancer Too, LP
From The Guardian:
Ra was hardly the first bandleader to drive his band hard, but he took it to another plane. Musicians who didn’t focus or turned up late were locked in cupboards or, even worse, given the “royal treatment”. At the Arkestra‘s next gig, they would be placed on a chair at the front of the stage, and Ra would announce that, because of a lack of discipline, they would not be allowed to play. It might sound ludicrous, but this musical naughty step exemplified the power that Ra and his music wielded over band members. Many remained with him for decades, honouring his vision long after his death from pneumonia in 1993. Saxophonist Marshall Allen joined the Arkestra in 1958 and, at the age of 90, leads the band to this day.
Premier Guitar interviews Aram Bajakian:
Few guitarists cover as much territory, both stylistically and literally, as Aram Bajakian. Not long ago the Queens-based guitarist found himself copping James Hetfield riffs for the late Lou Reed, playing in Freddie Green mode with singer/pianist Diana Krall, and improvising on works by maverick composer John Zorn—all in the same week.
Bajakian is part of New York’s Downtown scene, a group of improvising performers and composers such as Zorn and guitarists like Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell that emerged in the 1970s. Their music, which sometimes receives such oversimplified labels of “experimental” and “avant-garde,” is in fact quite catholic, drawing inspiration from many sources, both high and low.