AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon – Soft Berm (2018; Magnetic South Recordings)

Hear ye, aesthete! Hear ye, free music(s) fan! Hear ye, improvisers! The brash, virulent duo of Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon hold the keys to the kingdom and are ready to storm the palace of non-idiomatic form. Shimmy Soft Berm, the latest from guitarist Dorji and drummer Damon’s ever-proliferating corpus, into the deck. Comprised of a single live performance from Fall 2017, this one has all the hallmarks and hits the high points.

Soft Berm is a fine specimen of contemporary audio verité: the wow, flutter, and hiss of the original source recording, the sounds of shuffling feet and crowd noise, and even a few unsteady moments during the duo’s sonic explorations remain preserved and presented. Whilst their studio releases afford the pair a degree of forgiveness and/or rumination on the productive process, make no mistake, Berm’s fleeting moments of disorientation are as fascinating as the eons of pure exhilaration captured on this performance. From Damon’s crystalline drum paradiddles to Dorji’s prepared guitar hypno-raga, the duo spends just over 40 minutes trekking through three distinct sonic movements, in which they sanguinely explore space, syncopation, timbre, tension, and release. Damon is easily one of the most exciting percussionists to appear on the scene since Chris Corsano and having recently witnessed Kuzu, Damon and Dorji’s trio with Dave Rempis, I can assert that his technical proficiency and stamina behind, around, and in front of the drum kit are top-notch. Meanwhile, Dorji remains one of the few contemporary guitarist possessive of a Bailey-esque sensitivity, which is manifestly apparent in his tasteful engagement with his looping pedal.

Barring any wanton self-indulgence or dives off the proverbial deep end, this duo is walloping towards canonization. You heard it here first. Don’t be surprised when you hear someone half your age name-checking Damon and Dorji alongside Rashied Ali and John Coltrane as a force to be reckoned with in the realm(s) of free/improvised/art rock.

– J. Sebastien Ericsson Saheb


Evan Parker Sat. 9th May, Manchester

From Modisti:

An Evening of Improvised Music…
with –
Evan Parker – saxophones
Stephen Grew – piano
Phillip Marks – percussion

An all too rare appearance in Manchester by one of the great masters of the saxophone…

Evan Parker has been at the forefront of improvised and experimental music for over forty years, with a unique and innovative approach to his instrument that has been hugely influential. A master of extended techniques like circular breathing and multiphonics, he’s made over 200 albums with artists like Kenny Wheeler, Derek Bailey, Scott Walker, Robert Wyatt, Spring Heel Jack, Michael Nyman, Spiritualized, Cecil Taylor, Dave Holland, John Stevens’ Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Gavin Bryars, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, John Surman, Paul Lytton, Dudu Pukwana, Barre Phillips, Louis Moholo, Peter Brotzmann, Willem Breuker, Keith Rowe, Peter Kowald, Han Bennink, Tony Oxley, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Globe Unity Orchestra, Stan Tracey, Chris Corsano, John Edwards, Jah Wobble, Joe McPhee, John Tilbury, Eddie Prevost, Sainkho Namtchylak, Steve Beresford, Vic Reeves, Frank Perry, Manfred Schoof, Berlin Contemporary
Jazz Orchestra
, Thurston Moore, Lawrence Casserley, Walter Prati etc etc.

He is joined by Stephen Grew on piano and Phillip Marks on percussion who together and in their own bands Grutronic and Bark! have been making their own contributions to the world of adventurous improvisation for over 20 years. Those of you who saw them at last years Manchester Jazz Festival will know just how good they are…

Saturday May 9th
8:00 pm
Cross Street Chapel
Cross Street
Manchester M2 1NL
(not far from Albert Square)

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Performances Releases Reviews

DMG Newsletter April 3rd, 2009

From DMG:

Sun Ra 6 CD Slugs box .. and Live ’64 with Pharoah! Lou Reed Metal Machine Music Trio Live 2CD! Derek Bailey ’74! Melvin Gibbs With Pete Cosey & John Medeski! Joe Morris! Cooper-Moore! Gunter Hampel original Heartplants ’65!

Bob Moses! Roswell Rudd Trombone Tribe! Miles Okazaki! LaDonna Smith/Michael Evans! Andrea Parkins! Josef Van Wissem! Yoshi Wada! Phil Kline! Remaining INCUS backcatalog!



Richard Foreman is one of the most important theatre directors in the world, and has been a personal hero of John Zorn‘s for over 30 years. This theatre/music piece is the historic first-time collaboration for two masters of the bizarre (both MacArthur geniuses) who individually have challenged, enlightened and entertained adventurous audiences for decades.

ASTRONOME: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA is a work dominated by ecstatic groans, grunts and babbling, and explores the initiation of a group of people into a world where ambiguous behavior alone leads to freedom–perhaps under the tutelage of the necessary “false messiah.” This is one of those events that can only happen downtown – culminating from a chance meeting in the street – independent of any special grants, funding, institution or administration.

Based on ASTRONOME, the intense second CD of a series featuring Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn and Joey Baron, Richard Foreman’s staging of it is absolutely stunning!

Please make a special effort to see this once in a lifetime event, which opened FEBRUARY 5th and RUNNING ONLY through APRIL 5th at the ONOTOLOGICAL-HYSTERIC THEATRE
@ St Marks Church in the East Village, 131 East 10th St on Second Ave!

to purchase tickets, go to:

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Maggie Nicols / Fred Frith / Susan Alcorn in Houston

Maggie Nichols
Image via Wikipedia

From Nameless Sound:

Sunday, February 15, 2009, 8 pm

DiverseWorks Artspace,
1117 East Freeway, Houston, TX 77002
(click here for directions/map)

$13 general admission / $10 students and seniors; everyone under 18 gets in for free

Maggie Nicols (UK) – voice
Fred Frith (UK/San Francisco) – guitar
Susan Alcorn (Baltimore) – pedal steel guitar

With a background in jazz, dance, and theater, Maggie Nicols became an early pioneer in the European free improvisation scene when she joined John Stevens’ Spontaneous Music Ensemble in the late 1960’s. The Scottish-born performer would soon develop into one of the most unique and innovative vocalists in avant-garde music. Nicols is an artist of distinct individuality. Her agile and wordless improvisations are countered by the devilish sense of humor that she displays when she ad-libs speech into her pieces. Maggie Nicols is an active teacher and leader of workshops that fuse her experiences
in music, improvisation, theater, yoga, and activism. Though she is a veteran (she began her career in the early 60’s) and is recognized as the pioneer in her field, Nicols has only ever performed a few times in the United States. For more information on Maggie Nicols, go to

A wide ranging talent and prolific artist, Fred Frith first gained attention in the early 1970’s as guitarist for the pioneering English avant-garde rock band Henry Cow. Frith has distinguished himself as a guitar player, composer, improvisor, and collaborator. His versatility brings different approaches to his instrument depending on a particular playing situation (i.e., the prepared ‘table-top’ approach or the conventional guitar approach). The range of his collaborators gives an indication as to the scope of his talent and style. A short list of Frith’s partners includes: Derek Bailey, Lol Coxhill, Robert Wyatt, Brian Eno, Zeena Parkins, Tom Cora and John Zorn (Frith was the bass player in Naked City). Fred Frith is currently a professor of composition, contemporary performance, and improvisation at Mills College in Oakland. For more information on Fred Frith, go to

Perhaps the world’s premiere avant-gardist on her instrument, Susan Alcorn has taken the steel guitar far beyond its traditional role in country and western swing music. Well-known among steel players for her virtuosity and authenticity in a traditional context, Susan Alcorn first paid her dues in Texas country & western bands. Soon she began to expand the vocabulary of her instrument through her study of modern classical music (Olivier Messiaen and Krystof Penderecki), avant-garde jazz (John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman), and world music (Indian rags, South American songs, and gamelan orchestra). As a composer, Alcorn has proven to be visionary. Her
pieces reveal the complexity of her instrument and her musical experience, while never straying from a very direct, intense, and personal musical expression. Alcorn recently moved to Baltimore from Houston. For more information on Susan Alcorn, go to

This concert is part of Nameless Sound’s Andrew Mark Ladd Memorial Concert Series.

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