My all-time favorite guitarist is none other than the legendary Allan Holdsworth. I first saw him back in the late '70s, in one of the latter incarnations of the Tony Williams Lifetime; next with the British group U.K., featuring Bill Bruford, John Wetton and Eddie Jobson; and later, after seeing subsequent tours with his own incredible trio of bassist Jimmie Johnson and drummer Chad Wackerman, I knew I was witnessing pure guitar genius.
There is no one who sounds like the self-taught guitar wizard, though many have tried. His unique way of phrasing and beautifully crafted chords, is an extremely rare gift. Holdsworth is indeed, one of a handful of musicians who has consistently proven himself as an innovator within the worlds of rock and jazz music.
Many of music's best-known instrumental masters cite Holdsworth as that rare and shining voice—a legendary player who continues to push the outer limits of instrumental technique and the electric guitar's range of tonal and textural possibilities. Despite the uncompromising nature of Holdsworth's predominantly genre-defying solo projects, he's no stranger to all-star jazz festival line-ups or large venue rock audiences. His last performance at Yoshi’s was with Tony Williams alum Alan Pasqua, and recorded live on DVD. Holdsworth returns to Yoshi's for three more unforgettable nights with his long-standing trio featuring Wackerman and Johnson.
Allan Holdsworth is widely regarded by fans and contemporary musicians as one of the 20th century's most prominent guitarists. He is one of a handful of musicians who has consistently proven himself as an innovator in between and within the worlds of rock and jazz music. Many of music's best-known instrumental masters cite Holdsworth as that rare and shining voice—a legendary player who continues to push the outer limits of instrumental technique and the electric guitar's range of tonal and textural possibilities. Particularly during the 90s, Holdsworth has enjoyed the recognition so many musicians strongly feel he deserves, given that he has developed his career outside the big label mainstream and has consistently produced his own recordings with complete creative control since the mid-80s. Despite the uncompromising nature of Holdsworth's predominantly genre-defying solo projects, he's no stranger to all-star jazz festival line-ups or large venue rock audiences. Musician Magazine placed Holdsworth near the top of their “100 greatest guitarists of all time.” There's never been a shortage of media attention or acclaim for Holdsworth's accomplishments and originality. An inductee of Guitar Player Magazine's Hall of Fame, Holdsworth is a five-time winner in their readers' poll.
Beyond his ability in improvising mercurial solos and sculpting the guitar's voice into an ever-expanding range of textures and colors, Holdsworth has dedicated his energies to develop many different aspects of guitar technology. This has included new “baritone” variations of the instrument, his own custom 6-string designs (one most recently manufactured by Carvin), the invention of electronic components for the recording studio, and exploring the possibilities of guitar-based synthesizer controllers. Holdworth's ability to improvise over complex and challenging chord voicing's always reveals a deep emotional base and a strong, imaginative personality that is as instantly identifiable as any among Holdsworth's generation of guitar and jazz masters.
The sounds of Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Rainey, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass , Eric Clapton, and John Coltrane were among this English musician's early inspirations when he began to work professionally as a musician in his early twenties. Born in the city of Bradford , England , Holdsworth had been extensively tutored in aspects of musical theory and jazz appreciation by his father, an accomplished amateur musician. Holdsworth paid his musician's dues early on working the dance-club circuit, where he began to meet fellow musicians who hailed from the south. One of England 's best jazz tenor saxophonists, Ray Warleigh, heard amazing potential in Holdsworth's playing and brought him along to participate in jazz sets at the onset of the 70s, including sessions with Ray at Ronnie Scotts in London .
Holdsworth's career brought him to international audiences suddenly in the early 1970s, when he joined drummer John Hiseman's short-lived but much acclaimed “progressive” rock band, Tempest. A decade later, Tempest vocalist Paul Williams would team up with Holdsworth again to form Holdsworth's IOU band and create their independently-released debut recording, which prompted Holdsworth to move his home from London to Southern California.
Holdsworth's career throughout the 70s saw a series of feast-or-famine periods all too familiar to many of the most talented musicians. By 1975 Holdsworth had developed a reputation as one of England 's best, underrated guitarists in what was then the avant-garde of English instrumental music ensembles, the legendary group, Soft Machine. Holdsworth's trademark sound is evident with a technique that routinely soars with supersonic intensity, and one of its earliest available samplings can be heard on the 1974 Soft Machine studio release, Bundles . While his reputation in Soft Machine attracted international audiences, he also gained the attention of one of jazz's greatest drummers, the late Tony Williams, known for his pivotal role in bringing Miles Davis to explore rock-based riffs and motifs in an improvisational context. Holdsworth recorded on one of the most celebrated fusion albums from the mid-70s, Believe It , (Epic), as a member of the Tony Williams' New Lifetime. This marked the beginning of Holdsworth's career as a legendary journeyman, but one rarely performing before U.S. audiences.
Between 1976 and 1978 Holdsworth's guitar sounds and solos emerged as a mesmerizing tour de force and he participated in many of that era's landmark jazz-fusion and instrumental rock recordings by Jean Luc Ponty ( Enigmatic Ocean ), Gong ( Gazeuse! ), and Bill Bruford ( Feels Good To Me , One of A Kind ). Late in the 70s, the once dominant genre of classic British “prog rock” stumbled on unsure footing as the punk and new wave bands rose in commercial prominence. Drummer Bill Bruford, a founding member of Yes who later joined King Crimson, suggested Holdsworth participate in a new project featuring the formidable rhythm section of King Crimson and a brilliant young violinist/keyboardist Eddie Jobson, who had worked with both Frank Zappa and Roxy Music.
The resulting debut album, U.K . , became what was later considered the last and greatest milestones of 70s progressive rock. The band's sound was at the time both technically and artistically at the cutting edge of rock music, given the coupling of Jobson's innovative use of synthesizers and electric violins, coupled with Holdsworth's unconventional chord voicings, searing solos, and passionate melodic phrases. The U.K. “supergroup” setting was as brilliant as it was short-lived, and egos and questions of creative direction led to a split between Bruford and Holdsworth on one side, and Jobson and bassist John Wetton on the other. In 1996 Guitar World cited Holdsworth's contribution to U.K . as the factor in naming it one of the top 10 rock guitar albums “of all time.”
In 1978, Holdsworth decided he wanted to pursue a different, more live-based direction as opposed to his recent participation in lush, studio-crafted masterpieces. He sought out a more immediate, less intricately arranged band context than what had been established with Bruford, in order to explore a rock-oriented musical context that also explored extended instrumental ensemble improvisations. Holdsworth wanted to rediscover some of the energy and dynamics that had been so memorable in his live performances working with Tony Williams, and reluctantly parted company with Bruford's band. Holdsworth began to develop his own trio with two other Northern English musicians, drummer Gary Husband, and bassist Paul Carmichael, which begun Holdsworth's first touring band as a leader, the now-celebrated IOU band. Their first recording IOU sold exceptionally well for an independent release, and Holdsworth's friend and admirer, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, proved instrumental in securing IOU a recording contract with Warner Bros. Executive Producer Ted Templeman wanted to experiment with a “mini-album” concept, which resulted in the 1984 Grammy-nominated release, Road Games , which featured vocal cameos from long-time Holdsworth collaborator, the legendary Jack Bruce. It also featured a new American line-up, with Jeff Berlin and Chad Wackerman comprising the rhythm section. However tensions with the label over creative control led to a split between Holdsworth and Warner Bros. In 1985 Holdsworth signed with the Enigma label, enjoying creative control, and Jimmy Johnson joined the group after Jeff Berlin's departure to pursue his solo career. Holdsworth then recruited one of the most respected L.A. session bassists, Jimmy Johnson, leader of Flim and the BBs. The last version of the IOU band went back in the studio and with some notable guest appearances (among them bassist Gary Willis and original IOU drummer Gary Husband) contributed to tracks for the highly successful release, Metal Fatigue (1985).
In 1986 the release of Atavachron demonstrated Holdsworth's focus on instrumental music, continuing his core band with Johnson and Wackerman. Atavachron also featured stellar guest appearances by two of Southern California 's most sought after jazz keyboardists, Alan Pasqua and Billy Childs. Like other Holdsworth recordings to follow, it proved to be a summit for great drummers, with guest contributions from Tony Williams and Gary Husband. Husband's increasingly successful career eventually led to Holdsworth's appearance as a studio musician and band member with Level 42 for their 1993 release, Guaranteed . The follow-up to Atavachron , Sand (1988), marked a new period with Holdsworth concentrating on his exploration of the Synthaxe, a revolutionary guitar-like synth-controller.
Holdsworth received the winning award in Guitar Player Magazine's poll as “best guitar synthesist,” for many consecutive years afterward. With Secrets (1990) Holdsworth returned to his association with Enigma records, (which became the Restless label) featuring an album recorded mostly with the great session drummer Vinnie Collaiuta, who later joined Sting's band and had previously worked with Frank Zappa and Jeff Berlin. Secrets further revealed Holdsworth's rich harmonic vision and unleashed more distinctively “Holdsworthian” music, an enigmatic style that continues to invert, push, and transform the boundaries of more conventional rock, fusion, and jazz forms.
During this period the keyboardist from Stanley Clarke's touring band, Steve Hunt, joined Holdsworth's band. In the early 90s, Holdsworth also appeared in a jazz “supergroup” and at festivals with other great jazz and fusion legends, including Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, and Michael and Randy Brecker among others. 1992's Wardenclyffe Tower furthered an exploration of Holdsworth's own designs for baritone electric guitars (built by luthier Bill DeLap) and broadened the use of his chordal orchestrations and solo phrasings via the SynthAxe. In 1994, Hard Hat Area was released on Restless with the latest version of Holdsworth's band, including Icelandic bassist Skull Sverrisson, Gary Husband, and Steve Hunt, providing one of his most satisfying projects from the quality of group interplay and capturing the band closer to its live performance context. The release of Holdsworth's next album project, None Too Soon (1996) marked a departure in style from this impressive string of previous group projects. It provided Holdsworth the opportunity to showcase his interpretation of some classic jazz standards and several originals by one of England 's best-known jazz pianists, Gordon Beck.
Holdsworth recorded some of his favorite, lesser-known jazz standards, along with several Gordon Beck originals, in a “straight-ahead” jazz vein, drawing upon Beck's talents as an arranger. The rhythm section teamed for the project included bass prodigy Gary Willis and drummer Kirk Covington, both members of the West Coast based fusion powerhouse, Tribal Tech. None Too Soon built upon the same chemistry established in a brief recording session of the same musicians featured on a Beatles guitar tribute titled “Come Together,” (1994, NYC Records) in which this same group covered Beck's arrangement of the Beatles' “Michelle.” In None Too Soon , Holdsworth produced a refreshing jazz recording that realized a different perspective on his playing, while demonstrating his appreciation of standards as penned by John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Django Reinhardt and Joe Henderson. None Too Soon offers listeners a compelling and swinging musical journey, including a riveting, updated interpretation of Irving Berlin's “How Deep Is The Ocean” and a blistering twist on the Lennon/McCartney classic, “Norwegian Wood.”
Building on the supreme sonic craftsmanship Holdsworth realizes in his home studio in Southern California , The Brewery, Holdsworth's latest solo recording is certain to be singled out as one of his greatest musical masterpieces. The Sixteen Men Of Tain marks a further exploration of traditional jazz motifs, and, as a first on his solo projects, an acoustic rhythm section. Holdsworth's tenth solo album marked the debut of a new band formed with bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Gary Novak, both West Coast session men. First released in 2000, a special edition with two additional tracks was released via Eddie Jobson's label, Globe Music, in summer of 2003. Tain marked a new direction in a forward-looking jazz vein and blended together a new vision explored to a degree in the more traditional jazz arrangements found in None Too Soon.
One frequent topic of discussion among Holdsworth devotees was the fact that after well over a decade of touring with stellar players, Holdsworth had never approved the release of any live recordings by his bands, or any of those with him as a guest performer for that matter. In Fall 2002, Sony Japan released Holdsworth's first ever live recording, featuring Jimmy Johnson and Chad Wakerman in which Sony featured the trio's performance show as a showpiece for their next generation of state-of-the-art five-channel sound technology. In late 2003, Alternity Records will release a second landmark Holdsworth live recording, Then! featuring a quartet performance from 1990 with keyboardist Steve Hunt, along with original IOU drummer Gary Husband, and Jimmy Johnson. Recorded originally in digital 24-track, Then! covers material from a broad swath of Holdsworth's recording career, from his days with Tony Williams' Lifetime up through Hard Hat Area and includes three never-released group improvisation tracks, not to mention some of Holdsworth's most powerful and ferocious solo flights ever captured on tape. Holdsworth spent time later in 2002 completing production duties for the recently released Softworks album Abracadabra , which featured alumnus from different eras of the legendary English experimental band, Soft Machine. Holdsworth toured with the band in Japan in the summer of 2003, which included saxophonist Elton Dean, bassist Hugh Hopper, and drummer John Marshall.
In the past decade Holdsworth has varied his music career, engineering and inventing electronic sound-processing tools, including The Harness. He has several unique electric guitar designs now produced by Carvin, and has worked with luthier DeLap in conceiving custom baritone and piccolo guitars. In fact one of the larger and longer baritones is featured on all three improvised pieces in the new live album, Then! In his expanded and improved home studio, Holdsworth is already writing material for a new album of original pieces, and is planning to participate as a guest musician in several other projects as an engineer/producer. Whether he is playing instruments with the latest electric guitar innovations, piccolo, baritone guitars, or the Synthaxe, Holdsworth remains never quite satisfied in his eternal “quest for the perfect tone."
With the Bay Bridge closing for Labor Day Friday night, San Franciscans may yet have their chance to catch Holdsworth via BART; for those lucky few already in the East Bay, spend some time with one of the greatest electric guitarists of all time.
Allan Holdsworth, with Jimmy Johnson & Chad Wackerman at Yoshi's, Jack London Square
Fri 8pm $24 & 10pm $16
Sat 8pm & 10pm $24 Sun 7pm $24 & 9pm $16
Day of Show: additional $3 per ticket
One of my favorite songs, is a piece entitled "Balatho", written by the brilliant Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu during his tenure with the jazz group Oregon. (I loved "Balatho" so much, that I even played and recorded it with my own group!) A master tabla player as well as trap set drummer, Gurtu has re-recorded this wonderful song on a new CD with Arkè String Quartet called simply, "Arkeology". This latest version is perhaps the best yet, with Gurtu as the only improvising soloist in the ensemble, (on his famed staccato ragas and vocals as well as a multitude of instruments), and contributed three of the ten compositions. The quartet of Carlo Cantini – Violin, Dilruba, Recorder, Kalimba; Valentino Corvino – Violin; Sandro Di Paolo – Viola; and Stefano Dall’Ora– Doublebass, Ukelele, Emincence Bass/Aptflex, contributed the rest.
The reviewer John Fordam wrote, "The Arkè String Quartet have shrewdly and musically lent an ear to a lot of world-music materials - from a softly singing microtonal quality reminiscent of Chinese violin music, to the rhythmic devices of Indian classical music and a Shakti-like Indo-jazz fusion, to a Celtic skip, an ambient tone-poetry sigh and much more. Although the samplings from these different cultures don't entirely escape the local equivalents of hot licks, the CD is indeed, varied, sensitively played and affectingly melodic - and Gurtu's famously tumultuous jamming against it is as inventive as ever."
Gurtu was born into a highly musical family in Bombay, India where his grandfather was a noted Sitar player and his mother Shobha Gurtu, a classical singing star and constant influence. He began to play practically from infancy at the age of six. Eventually Trilok traveled to Europe, joining up with trumpeter Don Cherry (father of Neneh and Eagle Eye) for two years; touring worldwide with Oregon, the highly respected jazz group and was an important part of the quartet that L. Shankar led with Jan Garbarek and Zakir Hussain.
In 1988 Trilok performed with his own group, finally being able to present his compositions on the debut album "Usfret" which many musicians claim as an important influence; young Asian musicians from London like Talvin Singh, Asian Dub Foundation and Nitin Sawhney see him as a mentor and so Trilok's work finds its way onto the turntables at dance clubs years later. But back in 1988 Trilok met The Mahavishnu Orchestra and its leader, John McLaughlin and for the next four years played an integral part in The John McLaughlin Trio.
In 1993 Trilok toured his own trio in support of the album "The Crazy Saints", which featured not only Joe Zawinul but also Pat Metheny. Audiences were enthralled by his compositions that linked subtle Indian rhythms and Indian singing with elements of modern jazz and rock. The following year the band was expanded to a quartet and touring extended to include a US coast-to-coast tour and 40+ European shows.
The composer and band leader had evolved from the Trilok of earlier years: consummate musicianship now joined entertainment skills as his humourous presentations for the group, between bouts of serious music, brought uproarious laughter from his spectators.
Band tours continued annually establishing Trilok Gurtu as a regular and popular visitor to many European and US cities; his group, The Glimpse was formed in 1996 which grew from his musical roots in India's timeless acoustic tradition. By the late 90's they were touring worldwide and appearing in Festivals where he performed alongside the megastars of the entertainment business (Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, REM) as well as his colleagues in the World Music scene like Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal, Cesaria Evora and Salif Keita. The "Kathak", "African Fantasy" and "Beat of Love" cds came about in 1998/9, 2000/1 as a direct result of these years: Trilok's music entered a distinctly World Music setting. These Indian/African cds were snapped up, with public and media alike enthralled by Trilok's heady World mixture; a new sound that contained the core of his previous works but expanded on it allowing guest singers like Neneh Cherry, Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo and Oumou Sangare to display their talents in Trilok's unique world.
When Trilok hit the live performance circuit in 2000 and 2001 with his new group of 3 Indians and 2 Africans, sales of cds zoomed way over those of previous recordings. Audiences saw the group with special guest appearances by Nitin Sawhney, Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita and "The Beat Of Love" producer Wally Badarou in New York and London. In between a hectic schedule of group performances he has appeared at a number of prestigious solo percussion recitals and given guest performances on albums by John McLaughlin, Pharoah Sanders, Nitin Sawhney, Lalo Schifrin, Gilberto Gil, Bill Laswell & Annie Lennox.
The release of "Remembrance" in 2002 was a major milestone for Trilok. The guests Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain, Ronu Majumdar and Shobha Gurtu gave superb performances. Reviews in London were all 4**** and better, including The Times, Daily Express, The Guardian, Q, Songlines and FRoots. Combined with extensive touring across Europe and especially Scandinavia, this led to Trilok's second nomination for the BBC World Music Awards and for an EMMA. Stand out performances were at London's Hyde Park for the Queen's 50th Anniversary and in Bombay as part of a global satellite-delivered concert with Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal celebrating the BBC's 70th Anniversary of their World Service.
2003 saw a wide variety of over 50 performances all over the globe from Trilok Gurtu in quartet, trio and solo formats. His first collaboration in an orchestral piece took place in Koln in October, with the World Premiere of "Chalan" written especially for him by Maurizio Sotelo. Other key 2003 performances were at Cité de la Musique, Paris in April with special guest Shankar Mahadevan; in Utrecht with Robert Miles, Kudsi Erguner and Hassan Harkmoun and in Sardinia with Dave Holland. The most spectacular was certainly in Copenhagen at "The Images of Asia Festival" where he orchestrated a joint performance of his own band with Samul Nori (Korean Percussionist) and Huun Huur Tu (Mongolian Throat Singers). All this on a floating stage in Copenhagen Harbour at sunset - quite delicious! Exotic cities like Belgrade, Istanbul, Tbilisi and Kathmandu got another chance to enjoy his work and MTV took another clip in Bombay.
Trilok started 2004 with a 10-date tour of Norway in February followed by an extensive tour of 25 concerts in France to announce the release of his eleventh cd "Broken Rhythms". "Broken Rhythms" followed the critical success of "Remembrance", a second album mainly recorded in his home town of Bombay, with a strong selection of Indian singers and musicians. As with all Trilok records, the accent is on rhythm and drumming - but this one more so. Featured collaborations with the Tuvan Throat Singers Huun Huur Tu, the Arké String Quartet and an outstanding screaming guitar part from Gary Moore bring a heady mix of bright and fast with gentle and peaceful. The album was released in France in March 2004 and received 4 star reviews. Two visits to the USA with his group included the huge Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco in front of 20,000 spectators; Italian, Montenegran and Serbian engagements with further French dates in the Autumn completed his year.
"Arkeology" is the union of two seemingly different worlds: Gurtu’s extraordinary rhythmic vitality and versatility and the classic string quartet’s sound reinterpreted by Arkè String Quartet. Here two multimillenial musical traditions merge, melting in melodies, polyrhythms and new counterpoints. Their project is based on a fascinating linguistic research, which has the sole aim of allowing the pure force of the singing and the rhythm to emerge, these being the expressive cores of the Indian and Mediterranean musical traditions. I loved it, and I think you will too.
Max Roach, the master percussionist whose rhythmic innovations and improvisations defined bebop jazz during a wide-ranging career where he collaborated with artists from Duke Ellington to rapper Fab Five Freddy, has died after a long illness. He was 83. The self-taught musical prodigy died Wednesday night at an undisclosed hospital in Manhattan, said Cem Kurosman, spokesman for Blue Note Records, one of Roach's labels. No additional details were available, he said Thursday.
Roach received his first musical break at age 16, filling in for three nights in 1940 when Ellington's drummer fell ill. Roach's performance led him to the legendary Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, where he joined luminaries Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the burgeoning bebop movement. In 1944, Roach joined Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins in one of the first bebop recording sessions.
What distinguished Roach from other drummers were his fast hands and ability to simultaneously maintain several rhythms. By layering different beats and varying the meter, Roach pushed jazz beyond the boundaries of standard 4/4 time. His dislocated beats helped define bebop. Roach's innovative use of cymbals for melodic lines, and tom-toms and bass drums for accents, helped elevate the percussionist from mere timekeeper to featured performer -- on a par with the trumpeter and saxophonist."One of the grand masters of our music," Gillespie once observed.
In a 1988 essay in The New York Times, Wynton Marsalis wrote of Roach: "All great instrumentalists have a superior quality of sound, and his is one of the marvels of contemporary music. ... The roundness and nobility of sound on the drums and the clarity and precision of the cymbals distinguishes Max Roach as a peerless master."
Throughout the jazz upheaval of the 1940s and '50s, Roach played bebop with the Charlie Parker Quintet and cool bop with the Miles Davis Capitol Orchestra. He joined trumpeter Clifford Brown in playing hard bop, a jazz form that maintained bebop's rhythmic drive while incorporating the blues and gospel.
In 1952, Roach and bassist-composer Charles Mingus founded Debut Records. Among the short-lived label's releases was a famed 1953 Toronto performance in Massey Hall, featuring Roach, Mingus, Parker, Gillespie and pianist Bud Powell. But by the mid-1950s, Roach had watched several of his friends -- including Parker -- die from heroin addiction. In 1956, Roach was further devastated when Brown died in a car accident.
After his own struggle with drugs and alcohol, Roach rebounded with the help of his first wife, singer Abbey Lincoln. Married in 1962, they divorced eight years later. Roach re-emerged in the 1960s free jazz era with a new political consciousness. Albums like "We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite" reflected his support of black activism.
Over the next decades, Roach expanded his repertoire and explored new challenges. He taught at the University of Massachusetts, traveled to Ghana in search of new music, and performed with groups from Japan and Cuba. He also formed an all-percussion ensemble known as M'Boom, a quartet and a double quartet that included Roach's daughter Maxine Roach on viola.
Roach even worked with rapper Fab Five Freddy in the early 1980s. Ignoring critics, Roach insisted rap had a place on music's "boundless palette." Roach, who in 1988 became the first jazz musician to receive a MacArthur Fellowship "genius award," said his curiosity reflected his sense of obligation to music. He was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995.
Max Roach was born in New Land, N.C., on Jan. 10, 1924. His family moved four years later to a Brooklyn apartment, where a player piano left by the previous tenants gave Roach his musical introduction.
Using player piano rolls of Jelly Roll Morton and Albert Ammons, Roach played along by putting his fingers on the keys and pedals as they rose and fell. But he was looking for another instrument to play when he began singing with the children's choir at the Concord Baptist Church.
Roach found a snare drum, and was hooked. His father gave the eighth-grader his first set of drums, and Roach was drumming professionally while still in high school.
He was survived by five children: sons Daryl and Raoul, and daughters Maxine, Ayl and Dara.
A few weeks ago, I was in Cannes, France with ex-patriate cellist-bassist Stanley Adler, reminicsing on our 25 plus year friendship and our time spent performing with Brian Eno and the NYC group "The Same", featuring Clodagh Simonds, Carter Burwell, Chip Johannsen and Stephen Bray. (Eno and Burwell recently reunited with Simonds on her new CD, "Fovea Hex"). Our association with Eno was perhaps the most influential musical force of our lives, and steered us along a creative path we still trod today.
In those halcyon days, Eno was pioneering his video art; a dozen or so video monitors and computer generated images in a SoHo gallery, accompanied by his wonderfully ambient music. This weekend, Eno's vision comes full circle to the Yerba Buena Center with his North American debut of "77 Million Paintings", a video tour de force, art installation and ambient soundscape all rolled into one.
In late 2006, Eno released "77 Million Paintings", a program of generative video and music specifically for the PC. As its title suggests, there is a possible combination of 77 million paintings where the viewer will see different combinations of video slides prepared by Eno each time the program is launched. Likewise, the accompanying music is generated by the program so that it's almost certain the listener will never quite hear the same arrangement twice.
Conceived by Eno as "visual music", his latest artwork, 77 Million Paintings is a constantly evolving sound and imagescape which continues his exploration into light as an artist's medium and the aesthetic possibilities of "generative software". He first created 77 Million Paintings to bring art to the increasing number of flat panel TV's and monitors that often sit darkened and underutilized. Now Eno is also showing large installations of this work, recently at the Venice Bienniale and Milan Triennale, and in Tokyo, London and South Africa. The installation at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will be the North American Premiere of his work.
The installation is indeed mesmerizing; the kaleidoscopic display of the projected images and slow, rhythmic evolution of the artwork create a singular experience for the viewer
The North American Premiere 77 Million Paintings will be held at San Francisco's foremost venue for contemporary art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The art installation will be up for only three nights, and is presented by The Long Now Foundation, a San Francisco non profit dedicated to fostering long-term responsibility. Two evenings are open to the general public and the final night is set aside for members of Long Now, in appreciation of their support for the organization.
In addition to the 77 Million Paintings installation in the Forum, the Grand Lobby will be set up for conversations and refreshments, including a full bar, and will also have demonstrations of Long Now's Clock and Library projects. The Long Now Foundation was established in "01996", (the Long Now Foundation uses five digit dates, the extra zero is to solve the deca-millennium bug which will come into effect in about 8,000 years), to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long term cultural institution.
The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide counterpoint to today's "faster/cheaper" mind set and promote "slower/better" thinking, and they hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years. The term was even coined by one of their founding board members: Eno. When Eno first moved to New York City, he found that in New York here and now meant this room and this five minutes, as opposed to the larger here and longer now that he was used to in England. They have since adopted the term as the title of their foundation, and are trying to stretch out what people consider as now.
There is also a Limited Edition 77 Million Paintings DVD available, featuring an exclusive interview in which Eno discusses his creation of the 77 Million Paintings software, the next evolutionary stage of his exploration into light as an artist's medium and the aesthetic possibilities of "generative software." A bonus software disc creates a constantly evolving, slowly changing "light painting" on the screen of your computer or TV with a virtually infinite number of variations accompanied by his music. Also included in this deluxe package also is a 52-page book, featuring an extensive essay by Eno.
Brian Eno's "77 Million Paintings"
The Yerba Buena Center
701 Mission Street, San Francisco
$25, $20 for students and seniors
Friday, June 29th from 8pm till 2 am - general admission
Saturday, June 30th from 8pm till 2 am - general admission
Sunday, July 1st from 7pm till midnight - Long Now Members