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Phil Minton: A Doughnut In Both Hands

Glenn Astarita By

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This is a new release from the venerable EMANEM label which, categorically specializes in Free and Improvised music. The legendary Phil Minton has been a mainstay of the British Free Jazz movement for decades. Here, EMANEM has reissued tracks which originally appeared on Minton’s first solo effort for guitarist Fred Frith’s now defunct, “Rift” label and other tracks emanating from the early 1980’s.

Phil Minton gained considerable attention working with the famed Mike Westbrook Band. His unorthodox phrasing, improvisations and abstract vocal inventions were a perfect match for a burgeoning British avant-garde jazz scene. Minton’s second solo recording “A Doughnut in Both Hands” is a fitting testament to the unique capabilities and approach of this often misunderstood artist. The opening track “Orders For The Pals” suggests the forthcoming chain of events. Here, Minton incorporates a plaintive cry utilizing the upper register of his voice. Minton will not ordinarily stay within one motif or theme. He often starts, stops, alters the intensity, changes the mood and resumes his fascinating improvisational abilities. Minton stretches his vocal chords to almost unimaginable leaps and bounds; however, the mindset is that of an improviser. Perhaps Minton parallels the great free jazz saxophonist Evan Parker regarding improvisational technique and ingenuity. Granted, “A Doughnut In Both Hands” is not for everyone and will rarely enjoy any long-term exposure via radio airplay; however, the conceptual approach is unique and perhaps revolutionary. Minton frequently changes course during the course of 21 songs. You will hear traces of operatic librettos, yodeling, garbled speech, screeching, folksy humor and just about anything he can envision supplemented by an astonishing set of vocal chords. Phil Minton documents the history of anything and everything that can be produced by the human voice.


Title: A Doughnut In Both Hands | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Emanem

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