There is an attractive weirdness to the music of Rob Magill. With more than 80 recordings in his discography, his music is as diverse and hard to classify as the flora and fauna of the Amazon. His releases have ranged from jazz to classical, R&B, Delta blues, noise, psychedelic rock, soul, hardcore, post-hardcore, easy listening, punk, post-punk, folk, free improvisation, ambient, drone, space rock, math rock, free jazz, art rock, and bluegrass. Although one could not find Gregorian chant releases by Magill, it would not be surprising if he did dip a toe into the sounds of a monastery.
Magill is also a music presenter and label chief of Weird Cry Records, in Ojai, California. Blues Etudes is a solo recording for Gerrit Hatcher's Kettle Hole Records, where Magill's saxophones can be heard on the releases Triplet Fawns (2020) and Whole Abandoned Star (2021). Here he switches instruments on each of the nine tracks, sometimes also within a track, such as "Misc" where he opens with a mouth harp before substituting a flute and then harmonica. There is an idiosyncratic folk vibe throughout which evokes the spirit of Captain Beefheart's eccentricities. Like Don Van Vliet's music (and art) there is something primal yet attractive here. His "Alto Saxophone" honks in different keys before skidding off into a blues refrain and some altissimo refrains. The same is true of his "Soprano Saxophone" in which notes slather an ugly beauty. He applies bits of sooty electronic manipulation with his clarinet and flute work, and his "Bass Clarinet" track is a chest-pounding demonstration in the low end. The highlight here is "Tenor Saxophone," where his upper register explorations are contrasted with bottom notes and some impressive out playing. The music is weird and wonderful.
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