Avant Scena Contemporary music blog

“K’ampokol Che K’aay” was released in June, 2017. Interesting experimental jazz album was recorded by clarinetist Blaise Siwula and “Lisbon String Trio” – it’s Miguel Mira (cello), Alvaro Rosso (contrabass) and Ernesto Rodrigues (viola). These four experienced and talented musicians create original sound, like brave and innovative musical experiments. Their music is full of unique ways of playing, fascinating and stunning experiments, innovative musical decisions and always have bright musical language. Because of contrasts and different music styles, the improvisations are very dynamic and expressive, have many sudden and unpredictable stylistic waves. “Lisbon String Trio” music is somewhere between avant-garde jazz, experimental music and academic avant-garde. Basic elements of absolutely different music styles are gently combined and fused together in one place. All three musicians have unique and interesting playing style, use wide range of different expressions, styles, moods, characters and create passionate and expressive sound. Blaise Siwula is a famous avant-garde jazz clarinetist. His playing manner is evocative, innovative and especially expressive – improviser express many different moods, senses, feelings and create emotional, active and dynamic sound.
Album compositions are based on synthesis of academic avant-garde, experimental music and various experimental and modern jazz styles. Free structure and form, especially expressive and fascinating improvisations, spontaneous solos, bright and solid musical language create the basement of these improvisations. These compositions are based on avant-garde jazz which basic elements are marvelously fused together with academic music. The avant-garde jazz sound and main elements mostly are heard in clarinetist Blaise Siwula improvisations. Clarinetist improvisations have variable, dynamic and constantly changing sound – from very active, sharp, aggressive and expressive solos to soft, peaceful and silent improvisations. The wide range of musical expressions, moods and characters are heard in his improvisations. He express different feelings and moods by using many different playing techniques – extended and original ways of playing are effectively and inventively combined with traditional playing techniques. Glissando, colorful and wild fast arpeggios, powerful blow outs, dynamic rhythmic, expressive and memorable melodies and spontaneous improvising – all these elements are masterfully mixed together in Blaise Siwula improvisations. It also gently and organically fit together with string instruments. Cello, contrabass and viola melodies have gorgeous and colorful sound. Vibrant pizzicato, repetitive rhythms and melodic elements, sudden glissando, arpeggio, staccato, portato and other very well-known string playing techniques are combined with innovative ways of playing, musical experiments and spontaneous improvising. Each musician is improvising different from the others – unique playing manner, modern and expressive musical language, original sound and synthesis between opposite music styles gently get together in one place. Strings melodies and free improvisations are always between experimental jazz, free improvisation and academic music. All these absolutely different elements are effectively combined in one place. Clarinet melodies create and keep solid and intense melodic basic and also make more interesting rhythmic basic in some episodes. For the most of the time, viola and cello melodies are very bright, dramatic and passionate. Contrabass create and keep natural, organic, interesting and strong rhythmical and harmonic basement of the compositions. There also are some episodes there all three strings melodies gorgeously illustrate the clarinet improvisations and create colorful and effective background. Each compositions has interesting and modern sound which is created by putting together absolutely different moods, characters, expressions, playing techniques and other musical language elements. All these elements are mixed in one place and create fascinating and marvelous sound.

Downrown Music Gallery

JESSE DULMAN / BLAISE SIWULA - Dark Alleys (No Frills NFM 016; USA) Featuring Blaise Siwula on alto, soprano & tenor saxes, alto & bass clarinets and Jesse Dulman on tuba. Tuba player Jesse Dulman quit playing music for a number of years due the difficulties of surviving as a working creative musician in NYC. Last year, bassist/composer/community activist, William Parker, persuaded Mr. Dulman to pick up his tuba and come back to the Downtown Scene. Since then, Mr. Dulman organized his own quartet, played here at DMG a couple of times and have a wonderful LP out from one of those DMG sets. One of the oldest members of the longtime Downtown network is reeds wiz, Blaise Siwula, organizer of the weekly C.O.M.A. improv series at ABC-RIO for a couple of decades. Mr. Dulman and Mr. Siwula have been playing together for some twenty years now and this disc is a recent studio recording. The opening track, “Watcha Got for Country” features haunting bass (alto?) clarinet and a tuba drone. The balance between these two musicians is just right with Dulman’s deep bass resonance along with Siwula’s careful sax or clarinet interweaving on the higher tonal side. The sub-title for this disc is “12 Stories” by… and it does sound like each piece is story-like. While Mr. Dulman creates an thoughtful mood on his tuba, Mr. Siwula adds playful, swirling lines, colors and shades on top. At times, Dulman creates, deep, whale-like tones, like a cushion of molasses while Siwula dances gracefully on top. Siwula sounds as if he is playing an old fashioned standard on tenor sax on “Grace’s Garden”, an ancient melody at the center which is enhanced by Siwula’s warm, dreamy tone. There is something warm,and occasionally going lovely going on here. Like a rich conversation between tow old friends. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

The New York City Jazz Record

Blaise Siwula/Luciano Troja

Rags to Ragas
NoFrillsMusic nfm 012

By Ken Waxman

Actors like Lee Marvin and James Gandolfini surprised many when they shifted from playing heavies to leading men. Followers of avant-garde sounds may find themselves in a similar head-spinning position hearing Blaise Siwula on Rags to Ragas. Known for his shepherding of the long-running C.O.M.A. series and a slew of advanced jazz CDs, the alto saxophonist/clarinetist reveals a new musical persona on this disc with Sicilian pianist Luciano Troja. It’s probably the reedist’s CD closest to the mainstream. That’s mainstream in quotes however, for Siwula hasn’t suddenly been transformed from rugged Superman into a Clark Kent-like smooth jazzer. Like thorns hidden in a rose bush there are still spiky tones audible during the CD’s half-dozen tracks.

Troja, who often works with vocalists, may contribute to Siwula’s change in orientation. After all even avant-garde Italian musician have a tendency towards romance and throughout the disc, the pianist cushions the reed work with balladic motifs. Yet as the giveaway title indicates, improvisations are frequently rooted in earlier song forms. Siwula’s hitherto unknown link to a recumbent Lester Young approach is revealed. Playing clarinet on the title tune Siwula’s relaxed output is bluesy not heavily syncopated. with the pianist supplying a multi-fingered attack as the piece evolves, concluding the tune as a happy foot-tapper. Low-pitched and gently vibrated “Sun Surgency” matches similar bluesy reeds slurs and the pianist’s bottom-note patterning for a story telling exercise.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of normalcy like a teenager home alone in a horror flick. Looming abstract sequences arrive on the CD’s final tracks. During “When there's Freedom for All”, kinetic sprays of Troja’s multiphonics meet staccato reed pops wrenched from Siwula’s horn like pills from a blister pack. More spectacularly his final cadences reference both “A Love Supreme” and “Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid”. Transformed like Bruce Banner into The Incredible Hulk and back again on “Next Time George”, the reedist’s clear mid-range flutters become stutters and tongue slaps, relaxing into a steady swing line by the finale. Meanwhile, Troja’s tough, tremolo warms to become a near-lullaby. A unique take on Siwula’s art and a delineation of his partnership with Troja, this CD is well worth investigating.

Tracks: Carousel Dream; Sun Surgency; There And Back Again; Ragtime in Brooklyn; When there's Freedom for All; Next Time George

Personnel: Blaise Siwula (alto saxophone, clarinet) and Luciano Troja (piano)

—For The New York City Jazz Record April 2017


Sound Free

Is the fruit of the interpretative professionalism.

Let the listeners are as free as the interpreters
Christian Wolff

What is the mechanism of neuronal connection and nervous is exercised between the sound and the brain? What zones are activated, which are obscure, and even many reborn or are created at the time of the hearing? At the margin of the music as a rigid structure and static, making more in a term of 'weariness' than in a creative language, the free improvisation is subject to an imaginary axis that does not depend on the musician or listeners: it is their own decision of the sound that is taking on a life of its own as the characters ‘novelísticos’ that emerge from the author to decide its own course. And it is not a matter that they obey the whim. Is the fruit of the interpretative professionalism.

Blaise Siwula reeds/flutes, Armando Martin acoustic guitar and Edgar Caamal percussion deployed with their instruments a sound tissue that provides 'events' unexpected, from beginning to end of the work. This is what I call "9 songs of powerlessness" because the sound is the single protagonist, in a state of defenselessness full, absolute. It is precisely the wealth of music that knows no bounds. Artistically this production has by name "SONGS OF DECEPTION", the group Merida Encuentro, under the singular stamp 'Setola di Maiale'. Both musicians and record house the I summarize in the words of Mathiew Saladin: "empty space that implies plurality indefinitely". This work begins with the ritualistic sound of the flute in a floating atmosphere.

The ropes guitars are rubbed as disposing of your box of resonance and in its step is ‘ensortija’ with the clarinet, in an act of confrontation sound, almost suicidal, ‘enmarañándolo’, seizing him to then let fluír in its melodic murmur (beautiful 'concept' sound very present in this production) from here what songs will remain in the power of the daring improvisatorio. The guitar plays a role seductive: expands, wraps, seizes, frees, subject unfolds, enthrones a changing role, diverse, multiforme. In other moments of this cd the percussion and the clarinet whisper his desire and exploratory, flute, in their brief incursions, leads us to the voices of millenary ancestors in their splendour decoded, natural. On the other hand the battle between sax and guitar presents a duel ‘extasiante’, lucid in its delivery.

This proximity verbale to improvisation free supports its precariousness, its deficiency, its ‘intrascendencia’, but contrary to what course, designates the poetic sound in his artistic manifestation. Says Derek Bayle that 'the intrinsic difficulty of improvisation free hinders their designation, leaving it in suspense'. But this work offers other readings: are nine songs, that of intentional way (i think) named new words, each one written with the fourth letter of the alphabet (D) as a strange and enigmatic alphabet whose meaning is strictly sonorous, and are, in order: Deceit, Desire, Design, Defense, Determination, Duplicity, Decoy, Dissention, Derivation.

This is an idea which I applaud, as arising from a dadaist pen and could well be applied to a new dictionary that would have as the meaning of the words a musical theme, even as well as Rimbaud colored vowels, what color we would assign to this consonant? The answer is to listen to each one of these songs. Siwula, Martin and Caamal resonate in the night off rain in this thought of Cornelius Cardew: "We are looking for sounds and responses that are associated with them, instead of creating them from the thought, prepare and produce them. This search is carried out in the middle of the sound and the same musician is in the heart of the experiment".

Gustavo Bustamante Mesa - June 23 - 2016


The Original text in SPanish

                   CD   “SONGS OF DECEPTION”


                 Deja que los oyentes sean tan libres como los intérpretes

                      Christian Wolff


¿Qué mecanismo de conexión neuronal y nervioso se ejerce entre el sonido y el cerebro? ¿Qué zonas se activan, cuáles se opacan, e incluso cuántas renacen o se crean en el momento mismo de la audición? Al margen de la música como estructura rígida y estática, convirtiéndola más en un vocablo del ‘hastío’ que en un lenguaje creativo, la improvisación libre está sujeta a un eje imaginario que no depende del músico ni de los oyentes: es decisión propia del sonido que va cobrando vida propia como los personajes novelísticos que se desprenden del autor para decidir su propio rumbo. Y no es un asunto que obedezca al capricho. Es fruto del profesionalismo interpretativo. Blaise Siwula reeds/flutes, Armando Martin acoustic guitar and Edgar Caamal percussion despliegan con sus instrumentos un tejido sonoro que provee ‘acontecimientos’ inesperados, de inicio a fin de la obra. Esto es lo que llamo “9 Canciones de Indefensión”  ya que el sonido es el protagonista único, en un estado de indefensión plena, absoluta. Es justamente la riqueza de la música que no conoce límites. Artísticamente ésta producción tiene por nombre “SONGS OF DECEPTION”, del grupo Mérida Encuentro, bajo el singular sello ‘Setola di Maiale’. Ambos, músicos y casa discográfica los resumo en las palabras de Mathiew Saladin: “espacio vacío que supone una pluralidad indefinida”. Esta obra comienza con el sonido ritualista de la flauta en una atmósfera flotante. Las cuerdas guitarrísticas son frotadas como desprendiéndose de su caja de resonancia y en su paso se ensortija con el clarinete, en un acto de enfrentamiento sonoro, casi suicida, enmarañándolo, apoderándose de él para después dejarlo fluír en su soplo melódico (bellísimo ‘concepto’ sonoro muy presente en ésta producción) A partir de aquí las canciones se van constituyendo en la potestad del atrevimiento improvisatorio. La guitarra ejerce un papel seductor: se expande, envuelve, se apodera, libera, sujeta, desenvuelve, entroniza una función cambiante, diversa, multiforme. En otros momentos de éste cd  la percusión y el clarinete murmuran su deseo exploratorio, y la flauta, en sus breves incursiones, nos lleva a las voces de ancestros milenarios, decodificados en su esplendor natural. De otro lado la batalla campal entre saxo y guitarra presenta un duelo extasiante, lúcido en su entrega. Esta proximidad verbal a la improvisación libre admite su precariedad, su carencia, su intrascendencia, pero contrariamente a lo supuesto, designa la poética sonora de su manifestación artística. Dice Derek Bayle que ‘la dificultad intrínseca de la improvisación libre dificulta su designación, dejándola en suspense’. Pero ésta obra ofrece otras lecturas: son nueve cantos, que de manera intencional (creo) nombran nueva palabras, cada una escrita con la cuarta letra del alfabeto ( D ), como un extraño e enigmático abecedario  cuyo significado es estrictamente sonoro, y son, en su orden: Deceit, Desire, Design, Defense, Determination, Duplicity, Decoy, Dissention, Derivation. Esta es una idea que aplaudo, como surgida de una pluma dadaísta y que bien podría ser aplicada a un nuevo diccionario que tendría como significado de las palabras un tema musical, incluso,  así como Rimbaud coloreó las vocales, qué color asignaríamos a ésta consonante? La respuesta está en escuchar cada una de éstas canciones. Siwula, Martin y Caamal resuenan, en la noche de apagada lluvia, en éste pensamiento de Cornelius Cardew: “Buscamos sonidos y respuestas que se asocien a ellos, en vez de crearlos desde el pensamiento, prepararlos y producirlos. Esta búsqueda se lleva a cabo en el medio del sonido y el mismo músico está en el corazón del experimento”.

Gustavo Bustamante Mesa – Junio 23 - 2016





The Wings of the Sound

Siwula leads us to the freshness of New Orleans and returns us to the chaos of any city in the world

There is always that imagine new sounds, new feelings that transmit


When the free music sounds, submerge us in a cathartic barrage of vital meditation. This is especially true when we hear those musicians that are appropriate for your 'hybris' music. Of those that have embodied in his musical career unmistakable signs of adventure and plurality aesthetics. The name of Blaise Siwula i refers to the paint/audible of Gerhard Richter, by force and that it has to undertake their 'solismo', and of course to accompany musicians, that like him, know the deep perceptions that nests in the music and its sounds. In the disc entitled "Time In", a duo with the pianist Eric Plaks, both perform a true libertarian exhortation.

The percussion implosiva del piano (a tapestry of amazing plasticity, as creative fancy and creative Cecil Taylor) and the soprano Siwula, allusions to Sydney Bechet firm and even in the rough tone cutting and very close to Steve Lacy, corroborate the existing unit of free jazz as raw material for our intimate and collective delirium. "Some tunes are embedded as quickly in the heart of men such as rust on iron," said an unscrupulous writer, words that reach out to express me what happens when you listen to the vertiginous phrasing, the comprehensive note, the vital impulse of Siwula, a musical irony infected by the sense of humor, allowing your flight be shared with us, eager to undertake its height Sonora. We know well that the subjectivity sonora of free jazz was opened way with a Abruptness greater when confronted with the anonymity.

In the present twenty-first century this style opens the pure greenery of its abstraction before the socio-political facts that, paradoxically, gives existential life and aesthetics to this way of understanding music. With this I would like to say that Siwula/Plaks, in this production "Time In", recorded in August 2015, accentuate, with the frankness of your feeling individual sound, the humanist dispossession of the present, but at the same time, with the implementation of its fortitude interpretative, still believe in the affections of the art to protect us from the inevitable. Siwula leads us to the freshness of New Orleans and returns us to the chaos of any city in the world, with lively tunes and febrile, sponsoring the dialectic own of jazz and its vast history of styles and interpretations.

For its part the piano of Eric Plaks builds swarms harmonic and melodic of interpretative solvency and luxury improvisatorio, entering and exiting the dialog with the saxophone, noting its individual rigor and dialog conversational. "Time In" recalls in his libertarian resonance, that another formidable encounter of Lacy/Waldron, they so incisors as versatile as well as current binomial of Siwula/Plaks, have the musical splendour that allows us to continue dreaming, even in a world saturated by terror. "The mousiké - says a verse of Hesiod- poured libations on the penalty small". The free jazz, corroborated with the disc "Time In", remains essentially political, and playfully playful. The instrumental talks of both musicians have instances of warm refuge. And let us remember precisely the adjective stinging of the skeptical Cioran, in its affirmation: "Music is the refuge of souls ulcerated by this".

The two interpreters gathered here visit geographies of musical styles, it is true, but they pass beyond these boundaries: As Coltrane and Rashied Ali in "Interstellar Space", its sound, his gaze sonora "notes delicately to heaven", in the words of Jack Kerouac in his poem 'Blues'. But this is not a divine sky, rather belongs to the carnal mind of man and his infinite desire to conquer the joyful freedom. Both musicians are unfolding in the dynamics of your proxy by seven songs of sunny libertarian expression. And it is free enfaticemos who is an accomplice with his inner fire, as Prometheus, giving ourselves the fire stolen from the gods.

When the free music mutes, its resonance expands to all senses, leaving in the spirit the echo of their firm and tremendous exuberance.

Gustavo Bustamante Mesa - June 22 - 2016


The Original text in Spanish.

                                Las Alas del Sonido


               Siempre hay que imaginar nuevos sonidos, nuevos sentimientos que transmitir




Cuando la música libre suena, nos sumergimos en un aluvión catártico de vital meditación. Esto sucede especialmente cuando escuchamos aquellos músicos que están apropiados de su ‘hybris’ musical. De aquellos que  han plasmado en su trayectoria musical signos inequívocos de aventura y pluralidad estética. El nombre de Blaise Siwula me remite a la pintura/sonora de Gerhard Ritcher, por la fuerza y el sentido que tiene de emprender su ‘solismo’, y por supuesto, de acompañar a músicos, que como él, conocen la profunda percepción que anida en la música y sus sonidos. En el disco titulado “Time In”, dúo con el pianista Eric Plaks, ambos realizan una verdadera exhortación libertaria. La percusión implosiva del piano (un tapiz de plasticidad alucinante, como la fantasía creadora y creativa de Cecil Taylor) y el soprano de Siwula, en alusiones firmes a Sidney Bechet e incluso en el tono áspero y cortante muy cercano a Steve Lacy, corroboran la unidad existente del free jazz como materia prima para nuestro desvarío íntimo y colectivo. “Algunas tonadas se incrustan tan rápidamente en el corazón de los hombres como el óxido en el hierro”, afirmaba un inescrupuloso escritor, palabras que alcanzan  a expresar lo que me sucede al escuchar el fraseo vertiginoso, la nota amplia, el impulso vital de Siwula, de una ironía musical contagiada de sentido del humor, permitiendo que su vuelo sea compartido con nosotros, ávidos de emprender su altura sonora. Bien sabemos que la subjetividad sonora del free jazz se abrió camino con una brusquedad mayor cuando se enfrentó con el anonimato. En el presente siglo XXI éste estilo abre el verdor puro de su abstracción ante los hechos socio-políticos que, paradójicamente, le da vida existencial y estética a ésta forma de entender la música. Con esto quiero afirmar que Siwula/Plaks, en ésta producción “Time In”, grabada en Agosto de 2015, acentúan, con la franqueza individual de su sentimiento sonoro, el despojo humanista de la actualidad, pero al mismo tiempo, con la ejecución de su entereza interpretativa, creen aún en los afectos del arte para protegernos de lo inevitable. Siwula nos lleva a la lozanía de New Orleans y nos regresa al caos de cualquier ciudad del mundo, con melodías alegres y febriles, auspiciando la dialéctica propia del jazz y su vasta historia de estilos e interpretaciones. Por su parte la pianística de Eric Plaks construye  enjambres armónicos y melódicos de solvencia  interpretativa y lujo improvisatorio, entrando y saliendo del diálogo con el saxofón, advirtiendo su rigor individual y el diálogo conversacional. “Time In” recuerda, en su resonancia libertaria, a aquél otro formidable encuentro de Lacy/Waldron, éstos tan incisivos como versátiles, igual que el actual binomio de Siwula/Plaks, tienen el esplendor musical que nos permite seguir soñando, aún en un mundo saturado de terror. “La mousiké – dice un verso de Hesíodo- vierte pequeñas libaciones sobre la pena”. El free jazz, corroborado con el disco “Time In”, sigue siendo esencialmente político, y alegremente lúdico. Las conversaciones instrumentales de ambos músicos tienen instancias de cálido refugio. Y recordemos justamente el adjetivo punzante del escéptico Cioran, en su afirmación: “La música es el refugio de las almas ulceradas por la dicha”. Los dos intérpretes reunidos aquí visitan geografías de estilos musicales, es cierto, pero pasan más allá de éstos linderos: como Coltrane y Rashied Alí en “Interstellar Space”, su sonido, su mirada sonora “señala delicadamente al cielo“, en palabras de Jack Kerouac en su poema ´Bues’. Pero éste no es un cielo divino, más bien pertenece al espíritu carnal del hombre y su infinito deseo de conquistar la alegre libertad. Ambos músicos se desenvuelven en la dinámica de su estertor por siete canciones de soleada expresión libertaria. Y enfaticemos que es libre quién es cómplice con su fuego interior, como Prometeo, entregándonos el fuego robado a los dioses.

Cuando la música libre enmudece, su resonancia se expande a todos los sentidos, dejando en el espíritu el eco de su firme y  apoteósica exuberancia.


Gustavo Bustamante Mesa – Junio 22 - 2016



Alquimia Sonora

las diversas posibilidades gozosas de la emoción

Otredad del mundo del sonido
Edwin Prevost

La improvisación libre es la música de la intimidad. Más allá de lo representativo, lo simbólico e incluso lo anecdótico, los músicos y los oyentes compartimos el secreto de su magia, ese desbordarnos en el sonido como pureza inequívoca.

El músico y compositor Blaise Siwula, en sus diferentes formatos instrumentales, sabe ofrecernos el encantamiento de ‘la desnudez sonora’, que en palabras de los filósofos de la música, es la que está libre de los lienzos que la arropan: las cantatas, las sonatas, los poemas, es decir, lo que canta, lo que suena y lo que habla. Y surgen, entonces, los interrogantes:

¿Qué se proyecta en lo musical cuando su lenguaje está acendrado en lo catastrófico? ¿Qué antesala de lo testimonial habita en la coyuntura de lo estético? Hay rescoldos del jazz, la aridez de sus márgenes, que permiten un aliento más pertinaz, si se quiere, más lírico. Aperturas colemanianas e incluso del clasicismo contemporáneo, que amplía sus resonancias en el presente siglo, dando prioridad a la materia musical en trance de destrucción, sobrepasando los cánones impolutos del jazz mismo, subvirtiendo sus placeres apolíneos.

El trío conformado por Radtke/Siwula/Hertenstein nos presenta en la obra "Past the Future" la convergencia de varias generaciones aunadas con el propósito más denso, anárquico del jazz desde que los músicos norteamericanos comenzaran a emerger sus furores con saxos y demás aditamentos rítmicos y experimentales. “La música improvisada tiene el potencial de abrir fisuras en las formas anteriores de producción musical, pero está en manos de los músicos desgarrarla, a fin de encontrar una entrada”, dice Mattin, desgarradura de un jazz cuyo centro es la conjugación pletórica de sonidos enardecidos por su misma estructura libre.

Es lo musical poseedor de su propia realidad, nombrando lo que es inexpresable en palabras, se acerca a ellas, las bordea, las anula o las afirma en su lenguaje hermético. Esta forma jazzística expresa una gama colorida de emociones que a su vez define la personalidad sónica de cada uno de sus ejecutantes. Exploraciones de todo un andamiaje tímbrico y rítmico para ‘alivianarse‘ en texturas variables en sus recursos creativos, que sacuden por su fuerza orgánica. Es oír, al instante, la estructuración de un sonido que conmueve por el desastre, el caos intrínseco de su desenvoltura.

Es, de igual manera, la consagración estilística que juega permanentemente a la experimentación de los sonidos en su desenvoltura más subversiva aún en pleno siglo XXI. “"El sonido es libre"”, afirmaba Cage. Si las melodías del saxo están alimentadas, por momentos, con cierta semblanza de paisajes sonoros habituales, es sólo un ardid jocoso por parte de Blaise Siwula, antojado de sus raíces pero volcado en su filigrana rizomática, no dogmática.

Es situarnos en puntos que florezcan en otras geometrías ya reales o imaginarias, extender la visión al terreno triangular de éste formato, por ejemplo, con diferentes puntos de llegada y de salida, con sus vórtices naturales, creando una curiosa e interesante cartografía, cuyos límites obedecen a otras formas del vivir y del sentir, aun cuando el pensamiento del poder sea señalar lo singular como tarea inicua.

"Past the Future" es la bella aritmética del caos, los números explotando en sus teoremas, en sus abstracciones, en sus modelos racionales, en sus operaciones maquinales. Es curioso como en matemáticas éste tipo de caos controlado por ciertas reglas ha estado presente, de alguna forma, desde el siglo V antes de Cristo cuando los pitagóricos descubrieron el número ‘alogos’, el irracional.

Comportamiento y conocimiento de un caos que desde lo musical está mostrando cómo es tan orgánico y necesario, tan estructurado como la mente misma, y en ésta producción, lleno de las fantásticas fluctuaciones del saxofón, los acentos polirrítmicos de la batería, ajustados, en su nómada encuentro a las pulsaciones de las cuerdas, como verdadero engranaje del despojo.

Radtke/Siwula/Hertenstein expanden las diversas posibilidades gozosas de la emoción, haciendo vital la existencia desde la fuerza creadora.

Gustavo Bustamante Mesa – Julio 5 - 2016

Gapplegate Music Review

Merida Encuentro,

"Songs of Deception",

with Blaise Siwula

Merida Encuentro is Blaise Siwula's cooperative trio from

down Mexico way. Their new one, Songs of Deception (Setola

di Maiale 2016) gives us a special open, freely improvised

moodiness that wears well and projects nicely. It is Blaise

sounding quite fit and exploratory on clarinet (a treat to hear

him at length on this), alto clarinet, soprano and alto sax and

wooden flutes, plus Armando Merid Martin, here on acoustic

guitar throughout, and Edgar Caamal on drums and


There is a special sort of laid-back introspection to this set.

Not that it doesn't have energy at times, but it also has a

kind of mutual reflectiveness, an avant freedom that explores

possibilities more than it insists on performative presence,

though that is there. But there is a threesome of searching

for its own sake, experimental ways to get to where they

want to go that make for a understated yet mutually

reinforcing kind of three-way.

And I just love what Blaise is doing on the clarinet. Armando

and Edgar give us some well conceived dialoging that does

much to make this session so mood-open.

It's the sort of music where you need to get on the plane of

the trio to fully engage with it. Once you do there is much to

fascinate and appreciate.

Another good one! A different one! A worthy one!

Gapplegate Music Review

monday, may 9, 2016

Blaise Siwula / Eric Plaks, Time In,

Spontaneous Compositions


It makes perfect sense that avant saxophone virtuoso Blaise

Siwula and relatively new-coming piano firebrand Eric Plaks

would team up for a mutually rewarding encounter, Time In

(No Frills Music 0010). I've of course been covering many of

Blaise's expressively beautiful albums over the years on this

page, and I have recently covered Eric Plaks on several

exemplary outings here (type their names in the search box

above for reviews).

Eric's richly sensory-motored scatter piano virtuosity is on full

display, extraordinary noteful and unrelenting in its torrential

excitement. It spurs Blaise on to do some of his most

energetic, blazingly forceful and eloquent improvising,

whether on alto, tenor or soprano. He is on fire and manages

to find once again his own special space where the history of

the music gets channeled into his own special avant space.


There are seven freely improvised segments that vary the

pace, density and mood quite well. Blaise responds brilliantly

to Plaks' urgent, energetic, driven piano with some very

abstract counterlines, hugely satisfying timbral sculpting

(depending on the sax at hand) and brilliantly in-and-out of

tonality streams that respond to the well-conceived

modulatory tonal-pan-tonal piano outbursts. Eric now and

again responds to Blaise's historical channeling with a little

stride outness but there is never a question of the stateof-

the-art avantness of the encounter. This is 2016 and we

never feel otherwise.


It is a wonderful album on many levels, like a stiff belt before

your day in court, so to speak, it anticipates the future while

also ignoring it for the elation of the moment, the shouting

forth of out abundance with a preparatory act that is wholly

right in itself.

I've never heard either sound quite so good! It is Eric at his

most concentrated and Blaise at his most extroverted. It is

both attaining a freedom of ecstasy! Many stars of

appreciation, if I gave out stars. If I did this it would get all

the stars possible. If I don't give stars it is because I want to

avoid the praise/condemnation machine that sometimes can

result from such efforts. Quantifying something qualitative is

a mistake, to me. But if you must, think of this as a five-star



Grego Applegate Edwards

Gapplegate Music Review

friday, october 9, 2015

Blaise Siwula, Carsten Radtke, Joe Hertenstein, Past the Future

I have been listening to and appreciating saxophonist Blaise Siwula for a pretty long time now. He is a central figure in the avant free jazz realm in New York City. I don't recall hearing him more inspired in recordings as he is on the new disk Past the Future (No Frills Music NFM 0008).

It is a three-way cooperative improvisational meeting of Blaise on alto, tenor and soprano, the electric guitar of Carsten Radtke, and the drums of Joe Hertenstein. And a fine confluence is made out of the excellent chemistry the three generate together.

Joe Hertenstein is a drummer of great sound color and smarts. He unleashes his timbre-ally diverse kit and puts it to the service of creating cohesive and moving panoramas of percussive logic. His playing lays an important foundation for  what the trio freely creates.

Carsten Radtke gives us some very inventive guitar work that is as unpredictable as it is diversely astute. Chordal inventiveness goes with single-lining dexterity and sound manipulation for an impressive voice in the proceedings. And what he does stays in the mind and catapults the others to overtop the norm, launch into creative overdrive.

And Blaise Siwula? He is extraordinarily articulate, blazing with a big sound on tenor, plying equally well his agilely inventive alto and his puckish soprano. This trio gathering seems to especially inspire him to go beyond to the highest realm of creative saxophony. He invokes all of his avant chops for an expressive tour de force on this one. And you can hear in his playing here as elsewhere the entire history of jazz and avant as sonic reference points on the way to his own considerable immediacy and originality. If you want to know what Blaise is about, why he is an important stylist and innovator, seek no further. You can hear it in concentrated and explosive form on this, Past the Future. His tenor playing is not often in the limelight. He sounds very much at home on it here! So that is a welcome added bonus to it all.

Ultimately the point of it all is the threesomeness that is achieved in all glory on this session. Each member carves out of his creative and preparatory actions over the years a special trio sonance, an interactive virtuosity that really puts a burn in the retro-rockets to propel them to the musical heavens.

For a jazz-rooted avant freedom this is one of the finest sessions I've heard this year. Needless to say I do strongly recommend that you grab this album.

Downtown Music Gallery - Mérida Encuentro

Title: "Merida Swings" (In 7 Parts)

Description: Featuring Blaise Siwula on clarinet & alto sax, Armando Martin on acoustic & electric guitars and Edgar Caamal on drums & percussion plus Alvar Canto Torres on electric guitar (1 track). Once again Blaise Siwula hooks up with little known musicians, this time from Mexico where this disc was recorded. As time goes on I become that music is the universal language which speaks to anyone who listens intently. Improvised music, even moreso, seems to cross all borders or barriers so that musicians who can speak the same verbal (word oriented) language can still communicate to those who can speak through their instruments. The title of this disc and project is Merida, which is also the name of the town where it was recorded. The music here is an immensely focused trio of (mostly) acoustic guitar, clarinet or alto sax and percussion. The guitarist at times sounds like Dr. Chadbourne but not as frenetic or silly. This disc is cleanly recorded with warm, well-balanced sound. One of the thing I like about this disc is it is not too far out, very few weird noises or extended technique weirdness. Eventually, Mr. Martin switches to electric guitar and the trio do go a bit further out and free yet remain focused. Eventually, the playing gets more animated, like a spirited conversation. Ideas flow back and forth and things get even more interesting. It almost gets brutal towards the end when a second guitarist adds to the darker currents. This is indeed a strong way to conclude this consistently fascinating improv session. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

All About Jazz

Three Shots from Siwula: Blaise Siwula & NoFrillsMusic

By Published: August 18, 2015 | 2,301 views
The emergence of free jazz in the 1950s and 1960s pioneered a new way of thinking about music that not only affected the way music sounded, but also the way it was shared and distributed. In many ways, free jazz was a movement away from mainstream and mass-distribution and the rediscovery of music as art, but also as folk music, meaning a more direct and less commercial communication with the audience. This also meant that many musicians took the matter in their own hands when it came to where and when they were releasing their music. Independent, musician-owned labels were started and this legacy is thankfully kept alive today.

Saxophonist Blaise Siwula is one of the musicians who has picked up the baton of independent recording. The following three releases are all released through Siwula's own NoFrillsMusic label and recorded at Wombat Studios in Brooklyn. Together, they give a nuanced portrait, not only of Siwula, but also of free jazz. Here is dissonance, polyphony and rhythmic explosions, but also gentle lyricism, melody and swing.

Blaise Siwula / Shiro Onuma
Songs for Albert

The oldest and most mind-blowing release, Songs for Albert, was recorded in 2009 and released in 2014. The recording pairs Siwula with the Japanese drummer Shiro Onuma.

The title is a reference to the legendary free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, but as it is explained in a note: "there wasn't a preconceived direction to play like or sound like Albert Ayler, but there was definitely a feeling that spoke clearly to both musicians."

It is a feeling of wild beauty where organic patterns evolve through an intense dialogue of changing tempi and exploding silence. Siwula plays with the throaty growls of the master, but he can also be as soft spoken and elegant as Lester Young. The opening of "Songs for Albert" will be able to satisfy any traditionalist and connoisseur of melodic and lucid improvisation.

Onuma is a tireless bundle of energy, crashing the drums and whipping them into a hurricane, but he can also be understated and almost invisible. Simply put, there are moments of meditation and intense catharsis. Like the best dialogues between a saxophonist and a drummer, the conversations between Fred Anderson and Steve McCall and John Coltrane and Rashied Ali come to mind, Songs for Albert takes the listener on a musical rollercoaster of the human soul.

Siwula / Troja /
Beneath the Ritual

Beneath the Ritual changes the format from a duo with drums to a drummer-less trio with bassist John Murchison and pianist Luciano Troja. Naturally, this means that there is less focus on rhythm and more attention paid to chordal space, but the music also swings sometimes. A clear case in point is "Shadow Dance (if there is one)" where Murchison introduces an irresistible walking bass line while Troja's poetic piano is in a dialogue with Siwula, who plays all kinds of horns on this album: tenor, alto and soprano saxophone and clarinet.

The real strength of the album is its lyricism. "Softly Into the Night" is exactly what the title says, very soft, with Siwula's soliloquy introducing a nocturnal mood before the rest of the musicians enter.

Another composition on the album is called "When the Song is Home" and the musicians sound as if they are in zone where they can push each other without pushing anyone away. There is not any estrangement here. The lyrical chamber-jazz on the album feels like a welcoming home that should also be attractive to those usually scared away by free jazz.

Siwula / Radtke / Hertenstein
Past the Future

Another trio constellation is documented on Past the Future where Siwula plays with drummer Joe Hertenstein and guitarist Carsten Radtke. Siwula has previously worked with guitarist Dom Minasi. They released the excellent The Sunshine Don't Mind My Singing together on Nacht records in 2015.

Like Minasi, Carsten Radtke is a guitarist capable of going in many different musical directions and together with Siwula and Hertenstein, he takes many twists and turns, playing everything from classic jazz chords, little funky riffs and abstract soundscapes. The music ebbs and flows on the seven different improvisations and there is a lot of musical information to digest. However, as all these releases show, Siwula and his fellow musicians are highly skilled improvisers who understand how to navigate in complex musical landscapes that show the wide scope and endless possibilities of free music.

Tracks and Personnel

Songs for Albert

Tracks: Thinking of One; Songs for Albert; Solar Alignment; Albert's Ladder.

Personnel: Blaise Siwula: tenor & alto saxophone; Shiro Onuma: drums.

Beneath the Ritual

Tracks: Softly Into the Night; Shadow Dance (If there is one); When the Song is Home; The Challenge is in the Absolute; A Garden for Delights Played Again; Beneath the Ritual; We of the Universal in Tempo; Migration; Loop of Distinction; Light in Ascension; Challenges; If it Wasn't You.

Personnel: Blaise Siwula: alto, tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet; Luciano Troja: piano; John Murchison: bass.

Past the Future

Tracks: Past the Future; Sand Steps; Are Caught in a Moment; Of a Shadow; To Signal; On One Beat; Beginning an Omelet.

Personnel: Blaise Siwula: alto & tenor saxophone; Carsten Radtke: guitar; Joe Hertenstein: drums.

All About Jazz

Blasie Siwula/Luciano Troja/John Murchison: Beneath the Ritual (2015)

By Published: August 19, 2015 | 2,011 views

Blasie Siwula/Luciano Troja/John Murchison: Beneath the Ritual

The biggest slice of the free jazz stew is cooked up with—going back to the beginnings of alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's artistry—a horn or two stirred in with bass and drums. The chording instrument—guitar or piano—is generally optional. But when a piano sits in, the potential for sweetening the sound bounces up big time. Consider Coleman's rare outings with the piano: Colors: Live From Liepzig (Harmolodic/Verve, 1996) and the simultaneously-released Sound Museum Hidden Man and Sound Museum Three Women (Harmolodic, 1996), three of the free jazz pioneer's finest recordings (a minority opinion, perhaps, but there it is), featuring pianist Joachim Kuhn, with his deep classical background on the first disc, and the always deft and dynamic Geri Allen sitting in on the 88s on the "Sound Museum" outings.

Multiple reedman Blaise Siwula, with a background of working with the no frills, free improvisation labels, CIMP and Cadence Records, has started his own label, fittingly called No Frills Records, and on Beneath the Ritual he employs pianist Luciano Troja and bassist John Murchison to lay down a unfailingly melodic set that harkens back, in approach and mood, to 1996 Ornette Coleman. His use of clarinet, as well as the tenor and alto saxophones, adds another dimension to the sound.

The music is joyful on "Wee of the Universal Tempo" and "Shadow Dance." It is occasionally eerie: "Migration," "Softly Into the Night." And it can be quite prickly and free, but still very approachable: "When the Song Is Home" and the title tune; as well as introspective and spacious (The Challenge of the Absolute"), and it is always organically democratic as the responsive and adroit trio works out the mesmerizing, in-the-moment musical landscapes.

Track Listing: Softly Into The Night; Shadow Dance (if there is one); When The Song Is Home;The Challenge Is Absolute; A Garden For Delights Played Again; Beneath The Ritual; We Of The Universal Tempo: Migration; Loop Of Distinction; Light In Ascension; Challenges; If It Wasn't You.

Personnel: Blaise Siwula: tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Luciano Trja: piano; John Murchison: bass.

Downtown Music Gallery

BLAISE SIWULA/HARVEY VALDES/GIAN LUIGI DIANA - Tesla Coils (Setola Di Maiale 2620; Italy) Featuring Blaise Siwula on soprano, alto & tenor saxes, Harvey Valdes on electric guitar and Gian Liugi Diana on laptop & sound manipulation. All three members of this locally-based trio have played here at DMG on different occasions. Mr. Diana has played here numerous times players like Ben Gerstein & Frederika Krier. Mr. Valdes was part of a large/free unit organized by Jeff Shurdut in the past year or so. Mr. Siwula has long run the ABC-No Rio free improv Sunday Series as well as working with a large number of international players: Alan Wilkinson, Nobu Stowe and Luther Thomas. This disc was recorded in a studio in Brooklyn almost a year ago on August 15th of 2013. The first piece is quiet and slowly evolves with playful soprano sax, spacious yet free-flowing guitar and selectively used laptop to sample certain sounds and manipulate them subtly. The sax and electric guitar do a swell job of weaving tightly around one another as some minimal electronic swirls float in the either. Things finally get intense later on with dense layers erupting together. What I find most interesting about this is that with most great improv, it draws from many genres or falls in between any regular categories. There is a great deal of quick and/or intense interaction between the guitar and the saxes with selective electronics adding different shades or manipulating the sounds of either or both of the other two instruments. The music often balances well between more somber and more eruptive sections. Consistently engaging no matter what direction they choose. Harvey Valdes will bring two different trios here to DMG to perform on Sunday, August 17th at 8pm. One of those trios is the one from this fine disc, so come on down and support free music for free. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG CD $10

Percorsi Musicali

This is the English translation...the original Italian is on the website.

Tesla Coils - English translation

As before mentioned, empirical examples that develop elements of musical futurism can be acquired even with indirect methods that normally undertake always the process of improvisation: as many Italian musicians forcibly exported to New York, Gian Luigi Diana stands out for having already found its musical character and to have recorded in Setola (among others) a great job on digital signal processing , called Cristalli Sonori . Now the focus shifts to a trio with two other New Yorkers, the saxophonist Blaise Siwula and guitarist Harvey Valdes. "Tesla coils"(referring to the coils created by Nikola Tesla in 1891) is on the highest levels; it expects the maximum of creativity by the three musicians and it got it. I didn't know anything about Valdes, while Siwula was one of the representatives of the free jazz scene during the nineties. With a style between Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman, Siwula is a master of the intersection between melody and abstract expressionism, often build in blocks with moments of relaxation and powerful eccentric playing (the only Live in London is broadly representative). In Tesla coils everything works perfectly with convulsive parts and an extraordinarily effective sound: in Primary coil, from the eleventh minute on, the improvisation whirls around the tension created by the instruments, with Diana that creeps with sounds and arrangements reminiscent of magnetic storms and / or maintenance of electric circuits, to finish with a few notes of the sax and a surreal calm. Despite the apparent disparity, the music is highly enjoyable and a lot embroiled in a representation that lies between the jam and the emptying of electricity frequency circuits of Tesla; Discharge Terminal is built magnificently on the "shock" but also presenting very particular combinations of sound and effects that involve our feelings in a descriptive way. Siwula never stop blowing in his instruments, he is never tired; Valdes drag the listening to the mellifluous worlds of atonality and Diana carves this patchwork with his laptop and search for sounds in what can be considered a modern treatise on the sources to High-frequency simulations of circuit bending and resonance in front of the jazz of Coleman and Bailey and Primary tank capacitor is a compendium of those principles that look very forward in time, as well as this project that propels us into one of the best products of Improvisation of this year.


Tesla Coils
Tesla Coils
Setola di Maiale

Blaise Siwula - Soprano, Alto, Tenor Saxophones
Harvey Valdes - Electric Guitar
Gian Luigi Diana - Laptop/Real-time Sampling , Sound Manipulation

This is the final installation in my four-part series on new Italian jazz from Stefano Giust’s Setola Di Maiale label. Previous reviews can be found here, here and here.

Tesla Coils is a trio exploring “real-time electronic orchestration.” My experience with records featuring real-time sampling/signal processing is mixed. At times I think it works really well, such as on Evan Parker & his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble’s The Moment’s Energy, and at times it’s used in an overly harsh way, putting a heavy layer on top of the music. Tesla Coils is one of the best examples of this type of digital manipulation that I’ve yet heard. The sampling adds to the dialogue and never seems arbitrary or random.

Valdes has a spikey approach to his guitar that at certain points reminded me of Mary Halvorson, but he also mixes in other tactics including a crunching, metal-influenced component. He’s a good listener too.

When I first encountered this CD my thought was, “Oh yeah Blaise Siwula, I see his name around, I’ve heard him on a couple of things.” At the end of the first track I was thinking, “Wow, I had no idea this guy was such a great soprano sax player!” And as it turns out, he’s not too shabby on alto or tenor either.

Siwula plays his reeds “straight” for the most part, with a full tone on soprano and an at times luxurious, almost Hodges-ian tone on alto. Unlike a lot of these types of records, things never get to the point where you can’t tell who’s playing what, and that’s actually refreshing. The tension between the jazz-influenced saxophone and the edgy contributions from the other two musicians ends up being fertile ground to explore.

This is my sleeper album of the year so far; don’t sleep on it.

Gapplegate Music Reviews

The world of improvised music continues to evolve. There are those ensembles that favor an acoustic "purity" and there are those that incorporate electronics. Today we have a great example of the latter, Tesla Coils (Setola di Maiale).
It is a potent threesome of Blaise Siwula on soprano-alto-tenor sax, Harvey Valdes on electric guitar, and Gian Luigi Diana on laptop doing real-time sampling and sound manipulation. The advantage to this set up is that the electronics are integral and part of the live performance/improvisation.
Blaise and Harvey lay down a carpet of vivid improvisations and Gian transforms the sounds in various ways, adding a third instrument which is a direct consequence of the other two sound generations.
Anybody who reads this column knows I cover Blaise Siwula and his smart yet torching reedwork. He sounds excellent as ever here. Harvey Valdes plays in an out, fragmented and sometimes psychedelically inspired guitar style that works well in the ensemble. Gian Luigi Diana adds varied textures and densities that form an organic part of the proceedings.
In short, it all comes together. This is first-tier experimental music that once again shows the way to Brooklyn, a world hotbed for new music.
If you like well-executed, fertile-free soundmaking, this one is for you. Now if they used me on drums/, just kidding. This is the dope.

Gapplegate Music Reviews

Blaise Siwula, reed master of free music. . . we've usually associated
him with New York City in years past. He has however been spending sometime down in Merida, Mexico and has hooked up with some good players there. /Merida Encuentro/ (nfm 004) gives us a CD of free encounters of the ear-enriching kind, a rewarding result of the confluence of new and culturally diverse combinations that can happen when everybody opens up and listens.

The first several cuts feature Blaise on clarinet and alto and Armando
Martin on acoustic guitar. "Para Django" starts things off with a kind
of swing extension of outness, of course paying tribute to Django
Reinhardt in the process. More abstracted duets follow, with "Sin
Tiempo" giving us a first climax via prepared and unprepared guitar that
goes from Bailey-esque flights to Latin classical to jazz chording to
sung-played expressive lining while Blaise makes a cohesive statement on

Armando switches to electric guitar for "Disenos" and drummer Edgar
Caamal joins the group to make it a trio for the rest of the set. The
dynamic remains free and open form. Edgar's brushed drums make us feel a little more like we are back in New York, but Armando on electric
quickly turns up and gets us into a more watted avant abstraction that
has an exploded free-rock feel as Edgar switches to sticks. Blaise turns
up the intensity on alto and gets the max out of the two-lined
simultaneous soloing.

The mood continues with Armando back on acoustic and Blaise catching
alto fire. A longer, softer "Suave" brings back clarinet, brushes and
acoustic for what starts out as a kind of free ballad with a lazy
bluesiness in there as Blaise channels some tradition into his own world
with smooth ease but pointed strength. It comes to climax, then gets
quiet and moody again.

The finale, "Fuera", substitutes Alvar Canto Torres on electric guitar.
He is more into a metallic, psychedelic, high-voltage sound with guitar
feedback, power drones and edgy lines that give Blaise something else to
work against. Blaise glides and slithers along with it while Edgar
continues free drum barrages but also interjects intermittent pauses to
change the texture of the momentum.

In the end we get another way free can roll. Blaise is in great form and
his fellow travellers add dimensions and dynamics that keep it all
interesting. This is a successful first outing with lots of modes and
moods. I look forward to what else they will do in future.

New York City Jazz Record Review


Giancarlo Mazzu/Blaise Siwula/Luciano Troja (SLAM)

by Ken Waxman


After five years of intercontinental music making,

Italian pianist Luciano Troja and guitarist/drummer

Giancarlo Mazzù, plus New York multi-reedist Blaise

Siwula, have finally recorded their co-operative trio.

The wait was worth it. With interactive familiarity

engendered by time, the three easily enmesh unique

textures and timbres into a satisfying whole. Siwula is

an improviser never inhibited by fashion or genre.

That makes him a perfect foil for the other two, whose

musical explorations flow equally from so-called

classical music and folkloric suggestions as well as the

liberation implicit in free music.

As an added bonus, d’istantes3’s seven tracks are

divided in such a way that two unique trios could be

on hand. One, more jazz-oriented, usually features

Siwula playing alto or tenor saxophone in a tart,

impassioned manner while Mazzù demonstrates his

talent as a time-keeping drummer with a fondness for

shuffle beats. Here Troja’s command of blues

progressions and other swing conventions is on display

as well. With a style more akin to contemporary New

music, the pianist helps define the second trio,

alongside Mazzù’s harsh rasgueado and slurred

fingering on the guitar plus Siwula’s extended

techniques, usually expressed in the chalumeau

register of the clarinet or bass clarinet.

For instance, with Mazzù’s slaps and ruffs and

Troja’s metronomic pulsing propelling the tune

forward, “Istantes 2” finds Siwula’s saxophone lines

evolving from hesitant flutters to multiphonic, circular

smears. In contrast, “Istantes 1” could have been

through-composed in early 20th century Vienna. As

low-pitched clarinet puffs eventually sharpen, reed

lines are accompanied by harp-like strums from the

guitarist and busy piano patterns.

Divisions aren’t hard and fast, however, since

many tracks exhibit both recital- and dance-hall

characteristics. “Istantes 2” for example, has a blues

progression and drum rolls and shuffles suggesting

‘30s Swing while heavily vibrated bass clarinet slurs

are strictly modern. By the final selection the three

have managed to forge inimitable sequences, which

can call on the characteristics of other musics while

maintaining an interface strictly the band’s own.

For more information, visit Siwula is at

Spectrum Jan. 3rd and ABC No-Rio Jan. 20th. See Calendar.




Downtown Music Gallery

 Gianccarlo Mazzu' on guitar & drums, Blaise Siwula on alto & tenor sax, bass & regular clarinets and Luciano Troja on piano. Mr. Mazzu' and Mr. Troja were/are part of a trio (Mahanada) and duo who have a couple of discs out on Splasch. Here they work with the ubiquitous NY improviser Blaise Siwula, who has recorded on more than fifty discs with many musicians from around the world. Mr. Siwula has the C.O.M.A. series at ABC-No-Rio for many years which is where he first met these two Italian musicians. Since improvisation in an international language which musicians from around the world share, this trio combines forces with solid results. They are not bound by styles or genres so we hear a variety of directions from straight swinging clarinet to freer explorations. What I dig about this is that there is a playful and somewhat melodic quality to this even though it is fully improvised. A rarity for most free music. At times it sounds as if they are playing fragments of standards yet will organically change direction when anything becomes almost familiar. From time to time, the trio will weave into some further out regions but never go too far. Where as some improv gets too dense or difficult, this never does and sounds fine just the way it is. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery


New York Encuentro

Katsuyuki Itakura/Blaise Siwula/

Richard Gilman-Opalsky (No Frills Music)

by Ken Waxman


Named for the idea-exchanging “encounters” Mexican

Zapatista guerillas organized following the 1994

Chiapas uprising, the only concepts espoused on this

outing are purely musical. Yet the unfettered tonal

expressions demonstrated by this trio of veteran improvisers

are as radical in their way as the Zapatistas’ libertarian socialist

ideas were in theirs.


That’s radical, not confrontational. For no matter

how atonal New York Encuentro’s eight tracks appear,

they never fail to communicate. Upfront are the key

clipping and sly, note-patterning of Japanese pianist

Katsuyuki Itakura plus the reed prestidigitation of

saxophonist Blaise Siwula. Keeping the rhythm linear

is drummer Richard Gilman-Opalsky, who also

possesses degrees in political philosophy.


Considering his few brief solos are mostly

involved with cymbal clanking and press roll

reverberating, it’s obvious that Gilman-Opalsky’s

musical philosophy adheres to the Zapatistas’ low-key

(r)evolution. In their playing, the other musicians are

as similarly sympathetic as the Mexican movement’s

rural base is to wealth-distribution ideas. But like a

minority of Zapatistas who turned to direct action, the

trio here plays vociferously enough to get their ideas



Especially animated is Siwula, who on a piece such as “Toy Box” opens the container to reveal staccato tongue slaps, balanced reed bites and overblowing into every corner of the package. At the

same time he isn’t averse to ending a series of irregularly accented stutters with a joking quote from “Heart and Soul”. While the pianist is capable of kinetic jumps, his playing is economical, with singlekey

shading like early Cecil Taylor or mature Thelonious Monk.

The sprightly “Great Incept” could be an updated Monk tune,

with Itakura plinking broken-octave lines, shaded with

stride echoes andSiwula on tenor saxophone harmonizing

in ballad tempo like Charlie Rouse.


Although the trio’s intensity is often expressed in

reed triple-tonguing and splayed, keyboard leaps, in

2011 this progressive encounter should be no more

revolutionary than the Zapatistas’ ideas about nonviolent


Ni Kantu

Live in London
(No Frills Music)

Saxophonist and clarinetist Blaise Siwula is an acolyte of the fire-and-brimstone school of reed playing, abstracted to the sonic sources that have welled up over the years in musicians like Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann, and Shoji Ukaji. Live in London is just that, a series of eight solo tenor and clarinet pieces recorded in December 2008 on a visit to England, along with one duet featuring Alan Wilkinson on baritone saxophone. As much as Siwula pulls from the sandblasted reaches of energy music – and the closing “Time’s Up” with Wilkinson is a joyous shout of hard-bitten, screaming multiphonics and wind shear reminiscent of messengers McPhee and Gustafsson – there’s a lot of variability in his playing. “Stutter’s Waltz” is a three-minute slice of whittled resonance that plays a tense game with the possibility of breaking off into whoops and hollers, yet far exceeds any sense of “exercise.” The connection with McPhee isn’t too implausible, although perhaps Siwula is a little more interested in garishness in his wide-vibrato, wall-shaking preach. That’s notable with “On the Plains of Brooklyn,” which calls up both Rust Belt river silt and the music of the Scottish highlands, somehow mincing a penny-whistle with blustery tenor skronk. It’s a lot to fit into a short piece, but Siwula does it.

“Old Friends” takes a well-worn melodic fragment and ramps up the swagger into athletic curls, blats and paint-peeling sharp masses, though at the piece’s center is an awareness of the instrument’s stately history even as the saxophonist tears through it with winking abandon. Lest one forget Siwula has worked with melody hounds like pianist Nobu Stowe and guitarist Dom Minasi, “Time One Down” is an approximation of a pre-bop chestnut, sweetly closing the disc’s first third. Although that first third is also a bit more lo-fi, the music isn’t harmed, and the following thirty-minutes recorded at Ryan’s FlimFlam grants longer pieces (including the aforementioned duet) that, while mostly not as hell-bent, nevertheless provide a window into Siwula’s quick wit, massive tone, and love for his forebears. “Ryan’s Shuffle” is a fine example of this fact, toying with and building on some arcane melody much as a free mid-60s Rollins, albeit with a little of the non-idiomatic sandblasting school thrown in. Even when he’s taking it the distance, Siwula knows how to bring the music home to an almost hokey-sounding prewar vibe before stretching into high-pitched screams. If you really want a slice of Blaise Siwula’s world, Live in London comes highly recommended.

Clifford Allen

Gapplegate Music Review

Friday, July 22, 2011

New York Encuentro: Blaise Siwula in Excellent Form with K. Itakura and R. Gilman-Opalsky

Now that what was once called the "new thing" is nearly 50 years young, we have a chance to assess what has gone on so far. Not today, however, since as I write this New Jersey is headed toward 100-plus-degree weather and my office is rapidly becoming an oven with yours truly as the tuna casserole. Nevertheless there are substyles in "free" improv that are well marked out and players working within the various parameters with increasing economy of expression and a kind of certainty years of experimentation and musically genetic drift have made possible.

The trio of Katsuyuki Itakura, piano, Blaise Siwula, alto and tenor saxes, and Richard Gilman-Opalsky on drums serves as a good example. New York Encuentro (No Frills Music 002) finds them in a free-blowing set that has the consistency of music by players who know where they are coming from, know where they want to be, and then get there.

Itakura comes out of the Cecil Taylor school of pianistic all-overness. He's quite good at keeping the lines and clusters coming. Gilman-Opalsky has the Sunny Murray-and-after freetime drumming down and interacts well with the others. Then there is Blaise Siwula. He has a way of his own that relates to what has gone before but does so in ways that are endlessly inventive. It's not so much a timbral sound sculpting that goes on with Blaise on this set, though he does of course have a sound. It's the way he keeps coming up with lines of interest, setting up a dialog especially with the piano, laying out line after line of musical improvisation with a lucidity of someone who knows what he is about...that is what makes New York Encuentro music well worth hearing.

ZZaj Productions

Blaise Siwula – LIVE IN LONDON: You must be a dedicated improv fan to completely enjoy what Blaise is doing here.  His solo tenor sax work is both penetrating and forward moving!  “On The Plains of Brooklyn” will grab your ears and hold on to them for the entire 4:07.  “Transparent Dialogue” uses little “punctuation marks” to guide you through the conversation.  Those of us who are able to let ourselves go & get immersed in the moment will understand what’s being said immediately.  I’ve heard other players like Jack Wright and Jeffrey Morgan perform such antics many times, but Blaise manages to captivate your mind even though it’s a recording.  This is a great performance that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me (especially for listeners who can’t do without some freestyle), with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Rotcod Zzaj

Gapplegate Music Review

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Blaise Siwula, Solo Tenor Sax, "Live in London"

How many solo saxophone records have I heard? A good many. Are they all wonderful? No. If the player is not imspired or comes to the date unprepared, it can be slow going for the listener. Happily that is not the case with Blaise Siwula's Live in London (No Frills Music 001).

It's from two separate live appearances in 2008. He switches to clarinet on one track and Alan Wilkinson joins him on the baritone for the final number.

What I find excellent is how Blaise creates differing spontaneous compositions (free playing, if you like) by concentrating on the rich possibilities that the tenor offers. Siwula channels the big, timbrally complex sound worlds. Like Ayler and the Texas tenors, Blaise Siwula gets a sound that has wide expressive impact. Yet he doesn't really sound like those players because he has worked through his own take on the sounds.

It's free saxology from the nether regions of the land of Wail. And it's about as good an example as I've heard in a few years. Just as Blaise and Alan Wilkerson go out with a madcap flourish on the final number, you should do the same. Go out and get this--or Google Blaise and find a way to order it. But don't expect toe tapping. Do expect to set your MIND tapping.

Grego Applegate Edwards


"Blaise Siwula Live in London"
Human beings spend their lives trying not to be alone. Once they find company, they begin the
elusive search to rediscover their initial solitude. In music, the solorecording reflects this
contradictory quest. In many ways it is the most intriguing form, both for fan andartist, and once finally attempted, it is charged with a discernible aspiration to retrieve the ensemble format.
First to come to mind on the first track of tenor saxophonist Blaise Siwula’s Live in London,

“Stutter’s Waltz”, is Peter Brötzmann in the stammering orgies of deep tones and harmonics. Siwula invokes Albert Ayler on the second track, “On the Plains of Brooklyn”, with a simple, folk-like melody that slowly deconstructs into darker, earthier tones, closing, as Ayler often did, anthemically. “Transparent Dialogue” is a paradigm of what Siwula does all along: he attacks the problem inherent in a single-instrument excursus by engaging in dialogue with himself. Often, as suggested, this involves the play of lighter and darker, of higher and lower tones; but also, as in this tune, short staccato bursts contrasted with longer, legato lopes.
Siwula is a master duettist and he has no trouble transposing this knack to a self-on-self context. Again, melody and barrages of sound walls stack up against one another swimmingly, as Siwula always hints at harmony even in his noisiest squawks and his tunefulness is ever tempered by a robust, muscular delivery.

Downtown Music Gallery "Sometimes The Journey Is A Vision"


Title: Sometimes The Journey is a Vision

Description: Featuring Blaise Siwula on alto & tenor sax & clarinet, Luciano Troja on piano and Giancarlo Mazzu on guitar, drums and vocals. One of the things I've most admired about Blaise Siwula is his long journey of improvising with hundreds of musicians from around the world due to his continued weekly series at ABC NoRIO on Rivington St, just one subway stop (on the F train) at Delancey St., very far from DMG. Besides this series, Blaise has done some touring and playing with a wealth of improvisers from around the world. This is the second disc from D'istante3 and the other tow Italian musicians have previous discs on the Splasch and Slam labels. The first piece is a low key one for subdued tenor sax, somber piano and occasional bluesy slide guitar. Both Italians seem to bring out a more melodic, playful side to Mr. Siwula's improv. His clarinet sound especially charming on a few of these pieces. Even the freer parts here have a more relaxed vibe which sounds quietly engaging. Here's an obscure reference point for you geezers: the title of the second track, "Ginger is Her Name" comes from the theme song to 'Gilligan's Island', a sixties TV show that many of us seniors remember fondly. Each of these pieces unfold organically and this trio does work together splendidly, always telling a story. There are a few times when they sound as if they about to break into a jazz standard of some sort but rarely actually get there. This is improv at it most charming. Strange but true. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Flutes and Gong for Julian

Birds Light and Dimensions

Recent and distant tracks

Network Connections

"Time In" Siwula/Plaks

The latest release from NoFrillsMusic. Avaiable from

NoFrillsMusic $15.00 (shipping incl) domestic and $20.00 (shipping incl) international.(paypal) Also

CD Cover for Time In


The final show at ABC No-Rio was June 27th 2016. It was a wonderful 18 year run. Thanks to all the performers and audience that made it possible...and of course ABC No-Rio

New CDs on CDBaby from

Just Released: "Songs for Albert"

"Sometimes The Journey Is A Vision"

"Mérida Encuentro - Mérida Swings"

available at CdBaby as a Digital Download and CD
(also iTunes)

Mérida Encuentro - Mérida Swings CD cover

All cd's from nofrillsmusic are $15.00 USA 20.00 planet earth incl shipping ....go to paypal

Merida Encuentro Jan 4th 2016

"Past the Future" Radtke/Siwula/Hertenstein

From NoFrillsMusic for 15.00 domestic 20.00 intnl (ship incl) Available as a download and digipak from cdbaby.

CD Cover

"Songs of Deception" Mérida Encuentro

Released on Setola di Maiale available through nofrillsmusic

now 15.00 domestic 20.00 intnl with shipping via paypal

CD Cover for Songs of Deception

"Beneath the Ritual"

"Beneath the Ritual" is available on CDBaby as a download and digipak. Also at NoFrillsMusic for 15.00 domestic 20.00 intnl (with shipping) paypalBTR Cover

"The Sun Don't Mind My Singing"

Available Now : "The Sun Don't Mind My Singing" on NachtRecords

CD Cover



D'ISTANTE3 - available from SLAM productions and CD Baby

Solo Sax at Cross Kings Dec 10 2008

Blaise Siwula & Dom Minasi at the Intar Festival

Creative Spontaneously Composed Music

Blaise Siwula

"Short Day Short Solos" Solstice 2014