Musical roughhousing is what this group does. You might think this is pure dissonance until you realize it's all synchronized close listening to each other, which comes from so many hours of playing together. This is a touring band; the fourth one coming up in California, April 2018.
These three have all been residents of the Spring Garden Music House in Philadelphia, Zach presently. Jack and Evan have been playing together for over ten years, most recently in Wrest, with percussionist Ben Bennett. Zach and Jack started playing in June of 2014, an intense engagement since then, the most regular musical activity for both of them, releasing Meet and Greet on the Spring Garden Music label; reviewed here. Their Nov. 2015 tour took them through the midwest and southeast, where they met up with Evan, living in Chattanooga.
The tour with Evan in Sept.-Oct. 2016 took them to Johnson City TN, Roanoke VA, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Nashville, Evansville IN, St. Louis, Springfield IL, Bloomington IN, Lafayette IN, Cincinnati, Athens OH, and Columbus. In April 2017 they were in Pittsburgh, Athens, Akron, Cleveland, Bowling Green OH, Detroit, Muskegon MI, Chicago, Lincoln NE, Lawrence KS, Kansas City KS, Louisville, and Lexington KY.
Their next tour was November 2017, Roughhousing Goes Western, a loop from the Southeast through Texas, New Mexico and back through Missouri and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Jack and Zach had just gotten back from Europe Sept. 2017. And in Feb. 2018 Jack and Evan toured the West Coast from Vancouver to the California Bay Area.
Coming up in April 2018 is the Roughhousing California tour: Oakland, Santa Cruz, Sunnyvale, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Ojai, Santa Barbara, San Diego (UCSD), and The Soundings festival in Joshua Tree. See the Schedule for details.
Upcoming tours: Sept. 2018 Canada and Midwest; March 2019 Europe.
Their full performance in Johnson City TN in Sept. 2016 has been released on a CD "You Haven't Heard This" together with Jack Wright solos and available free with orders for Wright's new book, The Free Musics
"Roughhousing, defined as a form of boisterous play among friends, is the perfect moniker for a trio of transcendent improvisers. Jack Wright (saxophone), Zach Darrup (electric guitar), and Evan Lipson (double bass), three hardened veterans of the free improv scene, are driven by a fierce belief in the power of their cabalistic craft. Together, the trio conjures unadulterated, alchemical experiences that demand deep, in-the-moment listening. Taking the stage, the only thing up the trio’s collective sleeve is a musical surprise, the texture, color, and shape of which they don’t know until it’s been rendered unto the listener by their fingertips, lips, and lungs.
In his book, The Free Musics, Wright posits that free improvisation “exposes the gap separating human beings at play from musicians functioning as entertainers.”
Review in Atlanta's Creative Loafing:
In Athens OH they decided to become cowboys
Described 25 years ago as an "undergrounder by design," Jack Wright is a veteran saxophone improviser based mainly in Philadelphia. Since the early 80s he has been touring through the US and Europe, finding interesting partners and playing situations. Now at 74 he is still the "Johnny Appleseed of Free Improvisation," as guitarist Davey Williams called him back in the 80s. He continues to inspire players outside music-school careerdom, playing sessions with visiting and resident players old and new. His preferred partners over the years have been mostly unknown to the music press, and too numerous to list here. He's said to have the widest vocabulary of any, an expert at leaping pitches, punchy, precise timing, sharp and intrusive multiphonics, surprising gaps of silence, and obscene animalistic sounds. (Someone heard a recording and asked if it was a baby elephant.) A reviewer for the Washington Post said, "In the rarefied, underground world of experimental free improvisation, saxophonist Jack Wright is king." Wright has written a book released in Jan. 2017, The Free Musics. For more info, discography and sounds go to www.springgardenmusic.com and for other writing try this: http://jackiswright.wordpress.com/ Also check out his interview in Cadence Magazine July 2017, p. 55-73
Zachary Darrup is an improvising guitarist currently living in Philadelphia. During his early teenage years in the rural coal region of Pennsylvania a strange boy appeared like an angel, carrying a large cd booklet of wild musics of all sorts. This chance meeting at a pizza shop, plus tumultuous relationships with his home turf, school teachers, and other agents of law and rule enforcement led Zach to drop out and skip town, devoting himself to following music wherever it would take him--somewhere else. His techniques are informed by the musical possibilities of film language, jovial mockery and mimicry of plants, animals, and audience members, thoughtful room listening, word play, colors, and culinary experiments.
Evan Lipson (b. 1981) has operated as a musician since adolescence—intuitively seeking the liminal zones in which intellect and instinct, history and myth, and creative and destructive force intersect. Drawn towards aberrant perspectives at an early age, his formative experiences were primarily rooted in extreme and often discordant forms of rock, free improvisation, modernist composition, jazz, outsider pop, soundtracks, noise, and electronic music. Lipson has written music for several films, as well as a new collaboration with Duplex Planet-creator David Greenberger and Bob Stagner of the Shaking Ray Levis. Lipson also may or may not have some degree of involvement or association with an organization known as Meinschaft. Past units include Normal Love, Satanized, Dynamite Club, Femme Tops, Psychotic Quartet, and the Weasel Walter Trio. Lipson has performed throughout North America, as well as Brazil, Taiwan and Japan. His music has been released on several imprints including SKiN GRAFT, UgEXPLODE, High Two, Public Eyesore, Badmaster, Caminante, New Atlantis and Damage Rituals. Lipson is currently scheming to actualize an all-in-one dystopian tiki lounge, mystical grotto, and occult ritual chamber. He has concocted over 70 original faux-tropical cocktails since 2013.
In Evan's words: What we do might be deemed mere frivolity by those in the institutions and businesses of academe and arts funding. In our latter-day Society of The Spectacle, most people strike me as increasingly complacent, predictable, and anesthetized-- even within the so-called underground, where p.c. is taking its toll on bold music. The compulsion of musicians to expend their spare time and energies on marketing and careers in a no-future world is sucking all the marrow out of creativity and the human spirit. It's stifling and seemingly unavoidable. It's difficult to find aspects of modern reality that aren't contrived, fraudulent, or suspect in some way. How many people's actual character or deeds reflect the calculated persona they prop up for themselves online? We disrupt this compulsory tendency by going straight to the heart of our own desire, the sheer love of boisterous playing. We play with as much focus, intensity, and feeling as our brains and bodies can muster. Is it "good music"? Is that what you want?
On Zach: Irreverent savagery. King of contrasts. High velocity high jinks. Possibly the most abusive guitar player on the planet. As for Jack, the late Johnny McLellan, Boston drummer, once smiled and whispered to me, "Jack loves this [freely improvised] music more than ANYONE."
In Jack's words:: Back in the 80s I described Spring Garden Music free improv as "rambunctious," so that's basically roughhousing. The opposite is "polite" music, which observes a certain decorum. That's what tends to happen when music becomes acceptable to the middle class, as well as funding agencies and "serious" art music venues. Early New Orleans Jazz was roughhousing compared to its revival. Avant-garde and jazz today is super-polite, no stepping on others' toes and no interfering with the easy flow of music to audience appreciation. To me that's dead music, like take-out at the back of the fridge. We bite the hand that feeds us, if possible, and some like it, as did early hardcore. Roughhousing is jostling without intent to harm, maybe suppressed rage, but music itself never split any skulls, it opens our minds in other ways. As for performance, we play often for ourselves in sessions, but when people are present we don't change what we do. We don't know what we'll do before we do it, and then it no longer matters.