about the sounds of freely improvised music... S p r i n g G a r d e n R e c o r d i n g s

Spring Garden Music
The first SGM recording was a 1982 LP, Free Life, Singing; all others from the eighties were cassettes, mostly samplers of Jack Wright's performances, solo and with his partners. In the nineties, however, he began putting out cd's, the first in 1992, Thaw, with a large group of players he assembled in Boulder. Towards the end of the decade, with the influx of new capital and inspiration, came the a resurrection of SGM as a label, complete with web page and decent recording equipment. For orders write to jackwri555 at gmail dot com

o here's a list of outpourings, the most recent to the ancient:

You Haven't Heard This SGM 26

This is Where You Get Off SGM 25

Just What You Need Today SGM 24

Sample Tape 1979-1985 SGM 23

Meet and Greet SGM 22

Crunch, SGM 21

I'd rather be a sparrow, SGM 20

and surging roars against my pillow, SGM 19

Wrest, SGM 18

Audible Shadows,SGM 17

As Is--solos from Beirut and Barcelona, SGM 16

Whoosh, SGM 15

Nom Tom, SGM 14

Twist & Thrall, SGM 13

Up For Grabs, SGM 12

No Idea Festival, various, SGM 11 (out of print)


 Signs of Life, SGM 10

Double Double, SGM 09

Hill Music, SGM 08

Rattle OK and Rattle Still OK, SGM 06 and 07

Scream of Consciousness, SGM 05

In the Garden of Earthly Delights, SGM 04

Places to Go, SGM 03

Thaw, SGM 02

Free Life, Singing, SGM 01

Crunch is a wild ride in a couple chance afternoon sessions at the Spring garden house in Philly, 2013. The first track is the same group that has been performing lately, Jack Wright, Andrea Pensado, and Walter Wright, the last two on electronics, though different temperaments and sounds. The second track is with the addition of their frequent collaborator Stephanie Lak, voice and electronics, who also contributed the collage cover. On this, besides saxophones, Jack is playing trombone, voice, and he even dragged out the contra-alto clarinet. This is one of those expandable groupings of players that could include others, dependent on compatibility (which sometimes means contrasting direction) and availability.

I'd rather be a sparrow, SGM 20. Duo with Bob Falesch, electronics, available at Scintilla Bandcamp and as hard copy from Spring Garden Music: length 72 min, and full info at the Scintilla website. " Falesch creates electronic flashes, something out of a sci-fi (sometimes horror) junkyard for Wright to react to. The pair neither smothers each other nor does it require crescendos. Wright's saxophone slays each and every electronic dragon conjured by Falesch." full review in All about jazz.

and surging roars against my pillow, SGM 19. With Guillaume Viltard, double bass, and Grundik Kasyansky, electronics, recorded in London by Simon Reynell, March 2010, released on SGM bandcamp only, 2012length 37 min.
This was recorded in London in March 2010 by Simon Reynell in a bedroom magically converted into a studio (every piece of furniture was removed). Our music surprised us with its blending of sound, which is conventional in experimental music today, with lyricism, which is not. The title is from a poem by by Osip Mandelstam, "Insomnia. Homer. Taut canvas." Image on the right is a painting by Barbara Upton. For more on the trio go to this webpage.

Wrest, SGM 18. With Evan Lipson, bass, Jack Wright, and Ben Bennett percussion, 2012. length 76:54. Recorded on the first tour of the group, in Pittsburgh and Toledo. For more info see the group's webpage and sample here

Audible Shadows,SGM 17. With Johan Nystrom, percussion and Jack Wright: length 70:03. Recorded in performance and at Spring Garden house in 2010. The music is sound-oriented but not sound art, for it is driven by a sense of timing and sharp turns. Sample here

As Is--solos from Beirut and Barcelona, SGM 16.  Jack Wright soprano and alto saxes: length 52 min. Recorded in April 2006 at the Irtijal Festival in Beirut and at a performance space in Barcelona.

"Its three live tracks, two on soprano and one on alto, are uncompromising solo sax improv. If an improviser is producing tones at all on saxophone, it's hard to avoid a jazz element, and while the alto track starts out with noise, there's a moment when Wight is almost "soloing" on "Three Little Words". Raw, visceral, urgent, his music demands to be heard." --Andy Hamilton in The Wire, Dec. 2006.

"We get the frail nudity of silence, which the artist attempts to bring on his side with selected spurts of conscious jaywalking, far from the deliria of speechifiers who think of reed instruments as a pretext for morphing their squawks into a low-budget flux of consciousness. Wright's tone is often joyful, never mistrustful, always pure expression of gut placidity; there's not a single moment in which anguish or rage come to the fore. The music does not lend itself to interpretation: it's a non-floundering soul movement, a soliloquy in front of a broken mirror reflecting numberless forms of respect for the instrument and, at large, for the audience, which receives an authentic voice, warts and all. Jack Wright's aerials are oriented eastwards, waiting for more signals from parallel galaxies to convert into wayside reflections that have the same depth of a silent prayer." Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

Whoosh, SGM 15.  With Paul Neidhardt, percussion, Andy Hayleck, bowed cymbals, saw. length: 53:12. This features Paul Neidhardt, Baltimore percussionist, known for his work with rosined rods on the drumhead at Hi Zero performances.. Before he found improvisation he was in a local math-rock band French Mistake, and attended UMBC as a percussionist. Also playing here is Andy Hayleck, often found with guitar in his lap but here bowing cymbals, which he treats, strangely, as pieces of metal, as well as saw. Jack Wright is here in one of his more "reduced" or should it be called "stretched thin" incarnations.

"Whoosh teams [Jack] up with two active members of the incredibly fertile Baltimore improv scene, percussionist Paul Neidhardt – imagine a wonderful cross between Paul Lytton and Burkhard Beins – and Andy Hayleck, who, after miking up a frozen reservoir on Various Recordings Involving Ice (Heresee) and Bertoia sound sculptures on The Disappearing Floor (Recorded), turns his attention here to musical saw. There's plenty of draughty space for Wright's spitty furballs to roll around in these four low-volume medium-length but high-intensity workouts.–Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

Nom Tom, SGM 14. With Carol Genetti, vocals and Jon Mueller, amplified snare drum, and Jack Wright. sgm 14: length: 45:44. This is a recording of their first meeting as a trio, at a performance at the Spare Room, in Chicago in September 2004, recorded by Neil Jendon. Jack and Carol have been playing together regularly since the late nineties. Jon lives in Milwaukee and is the creator of the Crouton label. This trio toured in Sept. 2005 throughout the midwest and France in 2007. Covers designed and sewn by Carol.

"Genetti is one of the more discreet improvising vocalists: there are no full-blown hysterics and theatrics here, just a patient exploration of tiny twitters, bleats and delicate overtones – imagine a small furry animal Tuvan throat singing – and Wright accordingly spends much of the time with his sax jammed tight against his trouser leg, muffling and filtering the sound. Mueller's the wild card here, deftly avoiding classic improv percussion's nervous clatter and ping to concentrate on in-depth research into his beloved snare drum. The second track is more adventurous, filling the empty spaces of long dead reductionism with a whole range of sustained sonorities; about halfway through it turns into a veritable jungle (Indian, presumably, given the album title's reference to North Indian classical music), with Genetti squawking like a demented parrot and Wright growling menacingly in the undergrowth, while Mueller ticks away like a death watch beetle, leading the others into a nocturnal hooting contest. It's fascinating, superbly paced and impressive work, well worth checking out." --Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic, Nov. 2005

Twist & Thrall, SGM 13.  With Todd Whitman, reeds and Jack Wright: length 68:37. This is the only available product of the long-evolving duo of Todd Whitman and Jack Wright, who first played together in 1980 in upstate Pennsylvania, and then again when both were living in Boulder CO. Todd has since moved to Buffalo, where this was recorded, and Jack to Easton PA. Todd's playing reflects his roots in European free jazz, the saxophone techniques of which he is the American master (that is, one would be hard pressed to find another). This was recorded in 1999, and is the first recording on which Todd has appeared.

"Though the music on offer on Twist and Thrall was recorded relatively recently, in 1999, the same furious energy that characterised Wright's early work is still very much in evidence. Four of the fourteen tracks are solos, one by Wright and three by Whitman, including a spectacular and all too brief baritone outing [by Whitman], "Maul". It's bracing, muscular playing, full of strong ideas, forceful and dynamic but never crude or vulgar."----Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

"Jack Wright and Todd Whitman wander around on a parade of saxophones, and while the result might sound like a gaggle of caterwauling geese to some, I'm impressed. There are only so many ways to make a sound on a saxophone, and these guys seem to have found most of them. Noisy and exciting."----Aiding and Abetting
Up For Grabs, SGM 12.
Alto and Soprano sax solo: length 52:23. Recorded in Sept. 2004. While his first solo, in 1982, was recorded in his bedroom, his second in his kitchen, his third is from the basement--as if to say, how low can you go.

" There is much to like in Jack Wright's mature improvisations; the first feeling is one of "warmth": even at his most squealing corrosive, his soprano holds on to a nicely contoured permutation of fluted harmonics, sublingual contortions and analytic use of multiphonics, halfway through controlled stabilization and total fluster. Jack's soloist approach tends to a versatile evisceration of chosen parts, a monologue where larval hissing and note splitting are central for the exaltation of air's role in this beautiful gathering of physical imagery. Notes and instrumental noises pour out in a deconsecration of useless sax gadgetry, hiding after their own deviated scoff to make one think about the many and one ways musicians could use to reverse immoral attitudes towards sound; people like Wright could deliver us from this impurity."--Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

"Jack Wright is bright, his playing powerful: these qualities forge an engaging combination. For the most part, his musicianship inhabits the extremes...this is one of Wright's most esoteric solo ventures; and for those few who are likely to appreciate it, one of his most curious recordings."---- Steve Lowey, Cadence Mazazine, March 2005

No Idea Festival, various, SGM 11, a two-disk CD. Includes Mike Bullock, Nick Hennies, Linda Gale Aubry, Maria Chavez, Chris Cogburn, Bryan Eubanks, Sabine Vogel, Dave Dove, Michael Griener, Kurt Newman, Jack Wright, Tucker Dulin, and Matt Ingalls: length 71:09 and 48:36. This cd was co-produced with Coincident Records and Ten Pounds to the Sound and recorded at the festival in late May 2004 in Austin and Houston. Altogether 23 musicians came from Texas as well as Berlin, Boston, Portland OR, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, and played in various combinations for four days. As festival curator Chris Cogburn writes in his notes “An impetus for this gathering was the question, or desire (or perhaps ‘need’), to find out what kind of music would develop, what kind of relations would come about, if our growing community of players... invited other players who we were familiar with from our own individual experiences and histories, to come together for a few days of work.” More info on the current festival: here

Signs of Life, SGM 10. With Bhob Rainey, Tom Djll, Matt Ingalls, and Jack Wright, SGM 10: length: 43:32. Recorded on an extensive tour of the West Coast by Bhob Rainey and Jack Wright in March 2000, during which they joined with Matt Ingalls in Oakland, at a sparsely attended event, then with Tom Djll in Sand City CA, at a less sparsely attended event. They enjoyed themselves, and Tom said of the recording, "sounds like a kitten having babies in a closet. In the dark". Wright and Rainey also played in Salt Lake City, in a kind of farm shed. Listening to it as I write, this is simply astounding music--tight, turns-on-a-dime, explodes when you're looking the other way. This CD mastered by Bhob and individual covers painted by Jack.

"...the sparse yet intense set combines the explosive dialogues of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble with microtonal detail. You can hear the instruments vibrate as they collide and kiss in mid-air, all brassy smacks."---Julian Cowley, The Wire

"In ever new beginnings the music revolves around intuition, introspection, and interaction with tender, careful air-like movements. These instrumentalists renounce all trademark clich»s and ostentation in favor of a unified sound and vulnerability."----Bad Alchemy, (German publication) #39

Double Double, SGM 09. Bob Marsh and Fred Lonberg-Holm, cellos; Bhob Rainey and Jack Wright, saxes: length 41:57. This collaboratio began in May 1999; Bhob suggested a parallel grouping of two saxes and two cellos, these being Bob and Fred. Bhob sent a tape of this off to Bob Rusch of Cadence and the CIMP label, and that very summer the four recorded The Darkest Corner, the Most Conspicuous. So this recording preceded.

"Today one would perhaps speak of improvised chamber music, but as yet this quartet still has no roof over its head. This music is still open to all sides, creates for itself its own micro-climate. It is strong medicine. Small faces move nearer, in a curious way, and do not let themselves be frightened away..."---Bad Alchemy (a German music magazine)

"There are some reviewers who have been sorta' "slamming" Jack's music, writing it off as "too intense", "unlistenable" & that sort of thing. TOTALLY unacceptable, in this reviewer's mind! Absolutely intricate, the kind of music that must be absorbed, not played as background! Those who have been with us for lo these many years now will know what I'm talking about... improvisations with teeth, tasty morsels in every single second!" ---Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation

Hill Music, SGM 08. Recorded in June 2001, in the East Bay. The group was assembled by Bob Marsh, an artist in every direction his mind travels, since 2000 located in California, after a lifetime of music in Detroit and Chicago. Among his profusion of projects was the gathering of string players in Chicago for the Emergency String Quartet. The name went with him when he moved to CA, though different personnel, and continues today. A visit from Bob Falesch, Chicago (now NY state) partner and recording engineer, coincided with a session in Marsh's new home on the hill, of this group: Damon Smith on bass, Jeff Hobbs and Tom Swafford violins, and Bob Marsh cello. This is a serious contribution to the string quartet tradition, as anyone familiar with the contemporary composed quartet would have to admit. Hearing is believing. Mastering and liner notes by Bob Falesch, excerpted as follows:

"For those listeners whose prime reference is the standard repertoire of the string quartet, the ESQ's gratifying lack of prejudice against lyrical lines of songlike incantation may be a gentle introduction to freely improvised music, yet the ease with which they incorporate modern tonalities and sound based textures will challenge seekers of the avant-garde as well. A rich compendium of the ESQ's poetic and technical range is found in the first two brief movements of the CD's opening piece, Hill.1, a suite of four movements. The first begins with a persistent contrabass pedal tone, over which the first violin creates a simple pattern resembling the beginnings of speech. Just as the violin's phrasing matures and begins to reach toward the extremes of its compass, an elegant cello counterpoint sweetly and elegiacally sets the stage for the second movement's overwhelming bravura. Here is a phantasmagoric bulerÌas in which all four players conjoin in a torrent of exotically colored sounds. Fingertaps on the contrabass, jagged dotted rhythms, violent pizzicati, stinging spiccati on the violins, and the cellist's fierce sul ponticello all lead to a mind-meld of valedictory tremolos played by violinists bent on turning their strings in-side out, so vehement is their subjugation of tone by astringent rasps of overwhelming bow pressure. ...the rarity of this recording lies in the coherence and additive energy of the group as a whole."

Rattle OK and Rattle Still OK, SGM 06 and 07. length: These are samplers of music from Jack Wright's tours, 1999-2000, and so stretched out across the North American continent, from Boston to the Bay Area. Included on one cut or another are Bob Marsh, Tom Djll, Morgan Guberman, Ron Heglin, Matt Ingalls, Bhob Rainey, John Shiurba, Matthew Sperry, Karen Stackpole, Ben Wright, James Coleman, Greg Kelley, Eric Rosenthal, Stefan Dill, Dave Gross, Bob Wagner, Bob Falesch, Scott Rosenberg, Mike Bullock, John Berndt, Joe Giardullo, Paul Hoskin, Evan Rapport, Eric Leonardson, Chris Cooper, and Matt Weston. The name comes from a curious hand stamp Jack acquired, that we eventually figured meant that whatever is rattling in this music, it isn't our fault.

"a cornucopia of the saxophonist's unusual, unabashed free improvisations...a glimpse into a world of music which surfaces below the radar screen The underlying theme is that of no melody, no preconceived conceptions, no conventional harmonies, close listening by the performers, and a joyous affirmation of the wonders of life."---Steve Loewy, Allmusic.com

Scream of Consciousness, SGM 05. Michael O'Neill's solo guitar album, representing the wide range of flight patterns, nooks & crannies he has been investigating over the past ten years. Some pieces recorded in a living room concert in Boulder (those intimate events few musicians have explored), some recorded in a vast dance space (the outside, children playing in a pool, washes in thru the windows). Voted the best avant-garde recording in Denver, a writer tells us to "scratch deep and you'll discover methodically disarranged classical pieces, spiffy one-liners, and explorations into looped-based environments with all the distortion of a funhouse mirror." And Dave Wayne writes ""structures one would associate with classical and experimental rock-derived music, rather than jazz...and have none of the pretension or stiffness I associate with either genre.... the results are quite rewarding." and: "....methodically disarranged classical pieces, spiffy one-liners, and explorations into looped-based environments with all the distortion of a funhouse mirror."---Westword (Denver), March 29, 2001

In the Garden of Earthly Delights, SGM 04. Here is the dualistic version of Carol Genetti, Chicago vocalist, and Bob Marsh, cello, recorded in April 2000, two of Jack Wright's major partners of the coming decade. Language without a single word, huge range of meanings that seem right on the verge of something graspable, but maybe for that reason communicates all the more--"speaking" rather than "words." Perhaps it would upset some, "I'm sure you want to say something, so why don't you!" What is striking is how the primitive quality meets the most delicate, refined musical images. Nothing like a repeatable melody, but what could be more melodic than this flowing, connected music? Carol is of course vocal, but Bob also, one of the most vocally involved players, and a student of Chinese and Mayan in his spare time. These musicians are searching right before your ears, yet experienced and confident, having fun.

"The two construct compact conversational music of compelling intimacy. Genetti's wordless vocals dart and soar with an unforced flexibility. She effortlessly utilizes an impressive range; leaping from warm, full tones to the highest creaks and lowest growls. Marsh's cello provides a perfect complement; whether playing woody, resonant arco or percussive, bounding pizzicato. The two are careful listeners, knowing how to respond to each other and when to lay back and leave a bit of space. The natural sound of cello and voice lends a certain chamber-like immediacy without ever sounding stuffy or mannered."---Cadence Magazine

Places to Go, SGM 03 Recorded in 2000, this was the first all-solo album by Jack Wright, after twenty years of playing improv, and mostly solo performing. Recorded mostly in his kitchen, technically ignorant as to how to aim the microphones, but the musical result is clear. Cover is a large painting by the saxophonist.

"In the rarefied, underground world of experimental free improvisation, saxophonist Jack Wright is king. For over 20 years as a pioneer of extended techniques like overblowing, tongue clicks, multiphonics and microtones assembled in spontaneous compositions, Wright's been an inspiration, mentor and musical partner to many players. Here, with silence as his only foil, Wright solos in various live settings, creating a technical primer that demonstrates ecstatic flights of musical imagination unfettered by euphony or meter÷With nimble fingers-and an embouchure to die for (lips and tongue becoming subtle acrobats challenging a high blown wire without a net)-Wright ties his axe in knots and unties it with the dexterity of a prestidigitator. Wright's music remains human and exciting because it is clear and true and it expresses man's journey of consciousness and will in an unknown environment indifferent to his endeavors." --- Jeff Bagoto, The Washington Post

"Idealistic and obscure..WrightÌs impulse has been to let it all out without concessions, but on this solo set he foregoes raw expression, approaching soprano, alto and tenor with curiosity and attentiveness. Employing an idiom of slurs, snarls, jagged stabs and growls, each piece investigates what the instrument has to say in response to WrightÌs quizzical probing."---Julian Cowley, The Wire

"To my mind, Jack Wright is one of the handful of musicians that most perfectly embody the practice of free improvisation, along with Derek Bailey, Paul Lovens, James Coleman, Hans Tammen, Michel Doneda, and a few others. [One] way to view the matter is in terms of the way a performer filters their previous experience through improvisation. Such filters most often have some holes large enough to let through syntactically complex chunks of past experience, whereas a musician like Jack Wright seems to maintain a microscopically fine mesh of immersion in the act of sound-production that forces their past experience to be ruthlessly decomposed into decontextualized fragments of musical possibility that enter the realm of the audible in grippingly fresh configurations. This is nothing other than the classic notion of a master improviser as a musician who internalizes a broad vocabulary of finely differentiated techniques on an instrument to the point where any element of this vocabulary can appear at any time and in any relationship to other elements. Wright epitomizes this notion.---Michael Anton Parker, Bagatellen, March 25, 2005 (Bagatellen is now defunct and irretrievable. However, the full, long analysis of Wright's playing is here.)

Thaw, SGM 02. Jack Wright solo and with friends in various groupings--Bob Marsh, Murray Reams, drums (from N. Carolina), Terry Sines, bass; Gordon Kennedy, drums; Michael O'Neill, guitar; Justin Perdue, guitar; Jeremy Harlos, bass. Namely, 1992: length: . This was recorded in Boulder and Denver. One reviewer said something curious, "I wish I knew when this sort of thing goes from clearing any undesirable particles of whatever from your instrument to a JAZZ consideration." Apparently he didn't like it, but his thought about improvisation as an instrument-cleaning method is a good description. Covers individually painted by Jack.

Free Life, Singing, SGM 01. length: 39:54. Solo sax and piano, Jack Wright; duo with the late drummer Marv Frank. This LP was recorded at home mostly under a loft bed in 1982, and includes pieces with theirrepressible Philadelphia ex-bebop drummer. Crude by today's engineering standards, this album represents all the drive and excitement of an experienced player who has come across a new way of playing: free improv. At the time, rumor had it that all one had to do to be taken seriously as a musician was to put out one recording, and Wright decided that, given the huge expense and his preference for live playing, one of these would be sufficient every ten years. Cover by Jack, and poem on saxophone on sleeve.

"The saxophonist's roots in jazz are still evident — the fourth (untitled) piece starts out with an involuntary nod toward Monk's "Criss Cross" — but are well camouflaged. The second and fifth tracks are duets on which Wright is joined by Philadelphia-based drummer Marv Frank, whose nifty brushwork, though not well served by the recording, recalls Han Bennink. Wright saw his work then as "a continuation of the sixties, keeping radical culture alive, slapping American white-bread culture in the face." Indeed, for raw energy and sheer commitment, Free Life, Singing is right up there with the wild early Parachute recordings of John Zorn and Eugene Chadbourne, and is just as well worth hunting down."---Dan Warburton, allmusic.com

All Cd's can be ordered directly from Spring Garden Music

S p r i n g G a r d e n R e c o r d i n g s