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Art Strike!

Mark Corroto By

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"Would you support an art strike?" That's the question I've been asking musicians for the past few months. "Will you agree to stop writing and performing music for one year?" In 1990 the London artists Stewart Home and Mark Pawson proposed that all artists cease to "make, exhibit, distribute, sell, or discuss their work" for three years. They also called upon galleries, museums, alternative spaces, clubs, and concert halls to cease operations for that period.

Their goal was to draw back the curtain on "Art" (capital 'A') and the mystical act of its production, and reveal the truth about the marketing and consumption of said Art, thus refocusing the attention on the artist. Certainly jazz musicians understand this dilemma. Saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio wrote, " a musician is someone that puts $5000 worth of gear into a $500 car to drive 100 miles to play a gig for $50." The proponents of Art Strike admitted their proposed walk out would fail, but endeavored to move the attention from mainstream media and marketing back to the craft and skill of the artist.

In the 21st century, their message might be even more apropos. With the consolidation of the major recording labels, music now operates on almost polar opposites. Mega-corporations produce and promote one-hit wonders by musically challenged artists for immediate-splash short-term downloads in large Walmart quantities, and small labels (often artist run) release higher quality, lengthier projects by skilled musicians. The mega-corps don't consider their product a 'hit' unless it sells 3 million copies, while the small labels call sales of 3,000 units a triumph.

You and I appreciate those gifted musicians and those important small labels. We've been sifting through used LP bins for years, not to steal a beat or a break, but to find that lost gem by David S. Ware or Art Pepper. This stuff is important. We appreciate the construction of a Winter & Winter paper CD case, the ongoing reissue of Sun Ra performances, and most of all, the live performance by that artist or group that has just driven 100 or even 500 miles to perform in our town. Maybe the guy in the next cubicle at work has no appreciation for Steven Joerg's AUM Fidelity music label, Pedro Costa of Portugal's Clean Feed, or the June launch of saxophonist Dave Rempis' Aerophonic Records, but you do.

Duo Ab Baars/ Ig Henneman

Autumn Songs



After thirty years together and playing as a duo since 1999, Ab Baars and Ig Henneman have established their own vocabulary. The pair, musicians from The Netherlands thriving improvisation scene and life partners, glide, float, whirl, and waft these ten minimal compositions written for extended improvisations.

The saxophonist Baars, an important component in the large ensemble The ICP Orchestra, also leads his own trio and quartet plus he has collaborated with members of The Ex and in differing lineups organized by Chicago's Ken Vandermark. Henneman is a member of Queen Mab trio and leads the Ig Henneman Sextet. The duos previous disc was Stof (Wig, 2007).

This recording came after their fifteen-city 2012 tour of the United States. The pair toured, playing these minimally composed these pieces, inspired mostly by poets from William Blake to Rainer Maria Rilke to Wallace Stevens. Once back in Amsterdam, the document of their work was completed. The mostly restrained and quiet session acts as a colloquy on these autumnal themes. Baars doubling on tenor saxophone, clarinet, and shakuhachi suppresses the urge to bluster. Instead he takes a chamber approach to these pieces, responding to Henneman's viola. The music balances breathy notes against woody tones, as the pair recite their musical wordless poetry.

Massimo Barbiero


Splasc(H) Records


Before there was spoken language, there was music, and certainly the first music was percussion. The earliest humans probably communicated through beating on objects. Sticks on logs, then drums made of animal hide, and eventually gongs and bells.

Early instruments are the implements percussionist Massimo Barbiero utilizes on his solo recording Sisifo. The gong, the drum, bells and a simple electronic drum- pad, the wawedrum. Like the Greek King Sisyphus, Barbiero carries the entire load. But, unlike the mythic character, his chore is not in vain.

Barbiero's soul is orchestrated by percussion. He leads the large ensemble percussion and dance band Odwalla, and is the engine behind the long standing Italian supergroup Enten Eller, who released a big band recording E(x)stinzione Vol 1&2 (Splasc(H), 2012). His previous solo percussion disc was Nausicaa (Splasc(H), 2009).


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