Roughhousing is the right word for what this group does. Some might think this is pure dissonance, until you realize it's all synchronized close listening to each other from so many hours of playing together. Strange as it might seem, the part of the country most responsive to this music is the midwest and southeast, where audiences have been coming out for it. Not in droves, but enough to make us happy.
Here's from a show in Nashville, Nov. 2015
These three have all been residents of the Spring Garden Music House in Philadelphia, Zach presently. Jack and Evan have been playing for over ten years, most recently in Wrest, with percussionist Ben Bennett. Zach and Jack started playing in the 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. Their Nov. 2015 tour took them through the midwest and southeast.
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. Another tour is in the making for April 2017.
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
In Evan's words: I suppose we just as easily could have named this current grouping something like Horseplay, Tomfoolery, Shenanigans, Fooling Around, Clowning Down, etc. The name is a fairly accurate description of the sort of thing that most often transpires when we play together. We're into fun and humor; things that are deemed as mere frivolity by those in the institutions and businesses of academe or 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. The psychological compulsion towards expending one's spare time and energies on marketing, self-absorption, and careerism is gradually sucking all the marrow out of creativity and the human spirit. It's stifling and seemingly unavoidable. It's difficult to find many aspects of modern reality that aren't contrived, fraudulent, or suspect in some way. How many people's actual character or deeds reflect the often calculated persona they prop up for themselves online? It's all posturing and empty gestures. What we aim to do is to disrupt this compulsory tendency by going straight to the heart of our own desire(s). We deliberately risk making fools of ourselves in public. We play with as much focus, intensity, and feeling as our brains and bodies can muster. We rough shit up. I once asked Jack what he felt his relationship was to his instrument. He replied, "I love it so much, I want to fuck it to death."
On Zach: Irreverent savagery. King of contrasts. High velocity high jinks. Possibly the most violent and abusive guitar player on the planet. And Jack: possesses the rare ability to make even the most tedious players sound interesting. The late Johnny McLellan once smiled and whispered to me, "Jack loves this [freely improvised] music more than ANYONE." Check his pockets for sandwiches.
Jack's words:: Early on I described Spring Garden Music freeimprov
as "rambunctious," so that's basically roughhousing. The
opposite is "polite" music, which observes a certain decorum.
You're goofing around at a party and in walks your aunt, whom you
didn't expect, and suddenly everyone becomes polite, deferring to
a mood you think she would prefer. The fun is over, or the cryptic
thing my mom used to tell us kids, "fun is fun.". That's
what tens 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, when
it was polite. "Arty" music is polite; 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 ourselvesin 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.
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 73 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/
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.