I have been improvising music since I was teenager, first in jazz ensembles and later in more eclectic musical configurations. From 1993 to 1995 I was part of a trio in Calgary entitled Modus vivendi along with flautist Tim Janz and percussionist Brent van Dusen. We performed here and there and recorded dozens of jam sessions; we got so far as to record enough tracks in studio for an album but never sorted out a formal CD release.
In 2003 I founded the Electric Improv Lab at the University of Windsor. This group has featured many student and faculty improvisers over the years, though jam sessions and performances have been more infrequent recently than they were in the early days.
The Noiseborder Ensemble began in 2008, and has mixed composed and improvised music, always with a multimedia orientation. That group continues to develop, and we performed a set of semi-improvisational interactive works in Germany this past summer in collaboration with the blackhole-factory media collective.
Below is a sampling of my improvisational work, mostly in the context of one of the afore-mentioned groups.
This improvisation is based on Schumann’s From Foreign Lands, and was part of multimedia presentation curated by visual artist Laura Shintani. As we were playing, Laura painted from behind a large cloth suspended from the lighting grid; the audience saw the painting materialize over the course of the performance as the paint soaked through the cloth. The music was improvised by the Electric Improv Lab, but is based on the Schumann piano piece. I played the piano, along with Trevor Pittman (clarinet), Jessica Pistor (voice and toy piano), Nick Papador (percussion), and Pat Nickelson (guitar).
Superstars of Wrestling (2008)
The first performance of the Noiseborder Ensemble on October 23, 2008 included an improvisation inspired by photographs of wrestlers we found in a drawer. It turns out that our home performance space (Studio A at the University of Windsor) was used in the 1970s for old school pro wrestling, and the television program Superstars of Wrestling was broadcast from Windsor throughout central and eastern Canada. The photos we found were promotional photos of the wrestlers in full costume as well as a few action shots. Sigi Torinus wove the photos into a live video mix, and the ensemble improvised an accompaniment. I play the saxophone on this one, with Jessica Pistor on voice, Trevor Pittman on clarinet, Nick Papador on percussion, and Sundar Subramanian on guitar. I added in some extra processing in editing the recording.
Creemore is an eleven-minute tenor sax improv with some overblowing and alternate venting. I also ran the sax through a ring modulation patch I made in Max MSP and some Ableton sound processing tools.
This track was improvised by Modus vivendi in the spring of 1995. I play the saxophone, Tim Janz is on flute, and Brent van Dusen plays percussion.