Elliott Sharp's Terraplane - Secret Life
Composed by Elliott Sharp. Recording mediums. CD. Duration 63' 35''. MDS (Music Distribution Services) #INT 33852. Published by MDS (Music Distribution Services) (M7.INT-33852).
Item Number: M7.INT-33852
... this is the real blues of the 21st century. (Mike Shanley, Jazztimes)It is not all that long ago, that guitarist, saxophonist and composer, Elliott Sharp, was one of the protagonists in New York’s Downtown Scene, hanging around in such clubs as the Knitting Factory, the Kitchen or Tonic. The innovation of this biotope, the achievements between Noise and the Postmodern dominated Jazz and the likes for over two decades. Following 9/11, only few have regained this language. Elliot Sharp is definitely one of them.There is hardly another artist who is active in so many areas of music than Sharp. He has written works for orchestras and string quartets, which have been performed by the Kronos Quartet and the Soldier String Quartet; with his Band Carbon he redefined the Jazzcore; together with Ned Rothenberg and Samm Bennett he formed the avant-garde Trio, Semantics; he has improvised with John Zorn, Zeena Parkins, Christian Marclay, Marc Ribot, Joey Baron, DJ Soulslinger and many others; with his Tectonics project he brought the triumphs of Techno and Drum ‘n’ Bass together with experiences in free improvisation; he has celebrated pure rock power with such bands as the Boodlers, Bootstrappers or most recently Raw Meat; formed the guitar trio, Guitar Oblique, with Vernon Reid and David Torn; and his State Of The Union compilations he regularly takes stock of the New York scene – just to name a few of his activities. In addition to all of these innovative bands and projects Sharp also occasionally returns to the traditional. His folk-rock band, Mofungo, is legendary. With his band Terraplane he has been piloting the abyss of the Blues for some years now.When Elliott Sharp speaks about the Blues, he does not mean translating the Blues into futuristic corset, regardless of how it is defined. He looks for authenticity, continuity and stability in his Blues. His songs on ”Secret Life” are of archaic beauty. Yet, he does not copy the alleged Romanticism of the pre-modern cotton fields. His Blues aren’t playing in the Mississippi Delta or on Chicago’s South side, but in the witch’s cauldron of the Hudson Delta, the most famous island of which is named Manhattan. “My first contact with Blues was through the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones. From the very beginning, I was interested in who wrote those songs. That’s how I found my way to records by Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson. I read a lot about these musicians, and began being interested in Country Blues. When I started playing slide guitar I felt even more attached to this sound, because it is so vocal. Before I started playing chords and scales I played slide using the test tubes from my chemistry set. When I first heard Karlheinz Stockhausen, Harry Prach, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Feedback, Indian and psychedelic music in 1968, I suddenly wanted to play this kind of music. In order to find my way to it, I first had to learn who I am. I’m still dealing with this question today. That will never end. If I am approaching this definition more rapidly than before, it is because I am growing older.”In this sense, music is a way of seeking the truth for Elliott Sharp. The title, “Secret Life”, alludes to the secrets that lie under the surface of things. Sharp has put the laws of nature to music, translated mathematical formulas into sound, and with his songs and albums has often taken a painfully concrete stand in regard to political developments. In this continuum of ever more valid and current truths, Sharp increasingly rejects the concept of the Avant-garde. “I’ve never really liked the concept of Avant-garde. Music sings or it doesn’t. Of course there is music embraces the traditional and music that rejects tradition. But I don’t think that my album allows itself to be positioned by these coordinates. I’m concerned with music which can easily be placed in the spectrum of Blues, but which is also clearly not relegated to the Blues tradition, that is, unless somebody has an extremely broad definition of the Blues tradition.”The diversity of sound and forms on this album is fascinating. Sharp gets more colors out of his guitar than anybody would have thought possible with six strings. Never before has he integrated acoustic and electric music so organically with one another. In some of the pieces the Blues function like a framework house filled in with innumerable voices and sounds; in other pieces its more like an evening mood in which the listener hears the Blues without really being able to get a hold of it. There is also no shortage of spiritual and psychedelic interpretations of the Blues. Sharp allows his fellow musicians every bit of freedom to move their own ways within the songs without breaking out of the context of the band. The spectrum reaches from minimalist soli to explosive Electro-Blues. Nevertheless, thanks Sharp’s talent as a producer, the album doesn’t sound eclectic, but describes a logical flow of related movements.Sharp has written a new chapter for Terraplane with this new album. The album sounds more traditional than the band’s previous CDs. Sharp has paid more attention to song structure. But the line-up is also different. Following the death from cancer of long-time saxophonist Sam Furnace last year, Alex Harding plays baritone saxophone, and Sharp himself takes over the tenor sax. Rounding off the horn arrangements is Curtis Fowlkes (Lounge Lizards, Jazz Passengers) on trombone. Lance Carter, who knows Sharp from Raw Meat, is on drums. Bass is played by the avant-garde legend, Dave Hofstra, known from such bands as The President and the Microscopic Septet. Behind the microphone is Charlie Mingus’ heavyweight son, Eric Mingus, one of the greatest blues singers of our day, and poet Tracie Morris from the Black Rock Coalition. Terraplane is more than just a vehicle for Elliott Sharp. It is a New York all-star band. “My Blues are New York Blues and, at the same time, extraterrestrial Blues. I don’t want it connected to specific places. Nonetheless, all of the musicians are from New York. The grooves and accents set by the musicians in their soli are related to New York. Terraplane is becoming more popular. As such, I have more opportunities to perform on stage with this band. What I love about Terraplane is that so many of the aspects of my work come together in this band. I don’t want to revive historical Blues, but to play music that feels alive.” Additional info: www.panix.com/~esharp/Here you can find sound samples or purchase the complete album as mp3.
Elliott Sharp's Terraplane - Secret Life
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