120115 + 120216 (an improbable tree)

One thing I really enjoy about documenting the meetings at Fotofono is the opportunity to observe firsthand the group dynamics which unfold in and around the studio. As I read the _participants abc list (here at left) I see a loose collective of artists that keeps growing and mutating like an organism. What I like is the unpredictability of its crossings and bifurcations, and the eclectic range of its sonic manifestations.

120115, first set: Doron Sadja

120115, second set: Tyler Wilcox

120115, third set: Andy Hayleck and Ben Owen

This plurality is well reflected in the present post, which includes recordings from two recent events roughly separated by a month of time. The first three tracks are from the latest open doors event of January the 15th, which featured solo sets by Doron Sadja and Tyler Wilcox and a duet by Andy Hayleck and Ben Owen.
A fourth recording was made when a nine-piece ensemble gathered again in the studio just about a month later.



t work in the dark: Doron Sadja
Doron Sadja (computer) [27 min. 13 sec.].
With firm hands in the flickering candlelight and a resolute evil shine in his eye Doron tames his quadraphonic beast to a lush culmination. Wonderful opening set.


Tyler shows the score of the piece he’s just performed

Tyler Wilcox (soprano saxophone, field recording)
In this meditative, very quiet set Tyler performs his new composition “4hk4ak 2012”. Field recordings from Coney Island and Rockaway Park Beach are looped into brief sequences, constructing a  carefully paced structure over which Tyler lays out his soprano sax playing.  A sense of fragility permeates the piece, beautifully enhanced by the absolute stillness held by the audience tightly packed in the studio during the performance [32 min. 28 sec.].

Andy and Ben chilling during sound check.

Andy Hayleck and Ben Owen (computer and electronics)[25 min. 59 sec.].
Ben and Andy have known each other for years, but to my knowledge this is the first time that they have performed together as a duo. This low-frequency dialogue constitutes a brilliant study on poise and understatement. While the listener’s imagination (at least in my case) drifts in the mystery of the spectral elision, Andy’s and Ben’s sound creature slowly fills the room, finds a comfortable place in it and then slowly dissolves. It takes a few silent minutes before an applause follows and marks the end of the concert.


mpld projection

Gill Arno (mpld setup), Carver Audain (computer), Mike Bullock (acoustic bass), Bryan Eubanks (electronics), Tim Feeney (percussion), Andrew Lafkas  (acoustic bass), Catherine Lamb (viola), Ben Owen (electronics), Keiko Uenishi (computer and microphone) [36 min. 10 sec.].
The last piece of this post shows the other side of fotofono – the last-minute coming together of regular “closed doors” studio sessions.

On February 16th a bunch of improvisers got together when Mike Bullock and Tim Feeney briefly stopped by in Brooklyn while on transit towards New Jersey. This is the first piece of two that were played that night, and I think  the recording translates quite well the excitement that I felt at the time for the nice group that had gathered in the studio. For a nine-participant improvised session, there is  quite some space for everybody to explore unconstrainedly. As I listen back to this recording I really enjoy finding each participant’s signature sound to define the contour of the collective exploration.


Download all sets as zipped files:
flac [444.8 MB]
mp3 320 kbps [268.7 MB]

Recorded and prepared by Gill Arno.
Thanks for the photos to Derek Morton and Theres Wegmann.


3 x 2 and 2 x 3

Once again, time has run awfully short on me, so this post will have to be a little masterpiece of conciseness. Two Fotofono events are joined here, twelve artists in total out of which four were visiting from various parts of Europe. Except for the duo Fraufraulein, which has been around for some time, the other encounters were first-off, or at least pretty new combos.

February 27, 2011 – three duos
Fraufraulein: Anne Guthrie (french horn), Billy Gomberg (synthesizers and computer) [29 min. 39 sec.].
Maria Chavez (turntable), Daniel Neumann (piano soundboard, microphone, computer) [9 min. 40 sec.].
Chuck Bettis (computer), Berangère Maximin (computer) [43 min. 34 sec.].

March 22, 2011 – two trios
mpld (Gill Arno) (modified and amplified slide projectors, computer), Ben Owen (objects, electronics), Ignaz Schick (turntable, objects, electronics) [42 min. 18 sec.].
Andrea Belfi (drums, percussion, electronics), Attila Faravelli (computer through speakers), Byron Westbrook (Korg MS-10 Synthesizer) [32 min. 20 sec.].

Download zipped files:
February 27 (3 duos) – ogg [273.9 MB]; 320 kbps mp3 [182.9 MB]
March 22 (2 trios) – ogg [254.4 MB]; 320 kbps mp3 [164.1 MB].

February 27 recorded by Richard Kamerman, March 22 recorded by Byron Westbrook. All mastered by Gill Arno. Thanks to Richard, Byron, and everyone else who played, attended the performances, made pizza, brought wine, shot photos and in any way took part in the events. Additional thanks to Ben Owen for the photo just above. Finally, a special praise to those who during the March event made a donation to the Japan Tsunami Relief Fund (via Keiko Uenishi and Japan Society).

101130 Keiko’s bday, with music and recipes

Seijiro Murayama

Various factors happened to be aligned quite interestingly last month, somehow giving me a sense of urgency about organizing this Fotofono event, the last of 2010.
Patrick McGinley (a.k.a. murmer) from Framework was stopping by in NY while on his way to New England (Tartu, Estonia, is the place he currently calls home). Percussionist Seijiro Murayama was visiting from Paris for just a few days. And in those same days Keiko Uenishi (o.blaat) was going to celebrate her birthday, giving us a nice pretext for a party.
I decided to call up Ben Owen and ask him if he was into helping me to assemble the lineup for a couple of sets, in the well established tradition of the New York Phonographers. Such guidelines are simple — each participant presents a 10-minute selection of field recordings, segueing into the next one for cycles of about 50 minutes-one hour.
As a matter of fact, such standard form tends to be quite open to individual interpretation, becoming an open ground for various experimental approaches. For example, on this particular occasion, Patrick McGinley and Richard Garet decided to share their individual time slots, improvising together for 20 minutes instead of playing separate sets of 10 minutes each. o.blaat performed with feedback generated in the studio, capturing and manipulating it in real time. Daniel Neumann played selections culled from recordings made by Patrick Franke (who was not present).

As usual, the FF evening began around the dinner table – so, I have decided to take on Patrick’s joke and use recipes to complement and give context to the music posted here. I have collected most of them below, as told by their contributors. Somehow it seems like a nice and fitting way to wrap up this wonderful year at Fotofono.

Civyiu Kkliu, Anne Guthrie, Eric Laska, Patrick McGinley/Richard Garet [51 min. 27 sec.].
Seijiro Murayama [43 min. 00 sec.].
Daniel Neumann (presenting recordings by Patrick Franke), o.blaat, Richard Kamerman, Gill Arno, Ben Owen [56 min. 52 sec.]


Download zipped files: ogg [494.4 MB]; 320 kbps mp3 [330.8 MB].


Happy birthday, Keiko!

And now… cooking session!

The bread [Theres]

This recipe is probably not new to many of you but anyway here it comes:
In the evening mix:
3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 dry yeast (more in cold weather) or 20g fresh yeast
1 1/3 cups cool water

The dough will look very moist and sticky. No need to knead it, just let it raise overnight and during the day.
In the early afternoon shape the bread and place on a towel dusted with flour and let raise for 2 more hours.
Heat oven to 450F and place cast iron pot in it. When oven is heated take the pot out and invert the dough into it.
Bake in the pot for 30 min and then remove the lid. Bake for about 15 minutes more.
Let the bread cool on a rack.


Minestrone Partigiano, vegetarian version. [Gill]

There is not one single right way to go about it. What’s really important is to keep track of what each ingredient will add to the whole, and also about how long each ingredient will take to cook so as not to end up with mushy peas, or hard beans, etc.

I prefer using dry beans – cannellini and borlotti, but lima and pinto beans will work just as fine. Dry beans need to be soaked separately for 24 hours or maybe more, and in the meanwhile the water changed two or three times.
Beans bring protein substance, flavor and starch, which makes the soup dense. Potatoes will also add density and also some chunky bites, but their flavor is a bit dull. Garlic, onion, celery, turnip, pumpkin and any other available vegetables may bring more depth to the soup’s flavor. It is not as much a matter of the more the better, as one of personal taste. Something that I always use in this kind of soup is carrots and sweet peas, which add sweetness and color. To increase the flavor and protein content sometimes I add a few pieces of Parmesan crust to the simmering soup. Kids in northern Italy call them ‘crostoloni’, and to find a crostolone in their own dish makes them happy.

Spices are important too. Some people have an almost spiritual relationship to them. For this soup I would carefully mix a very finely ground blend of coriander seed, bay leaves, pepper corn, rosemary, basil, nutmeg and an almost undetectable hint of cinnamon and cloves.

I like to have everything ready and chopped beforehand so once the soup is on the fire I can just check it every now and then, keep adding ingredients and adjusting the stove fire as the soup keeps gently simmering for several hours. If the broth is not quite dense when I believe that everything is perfectly cooked, I just take out a cup of beans with a slotted spoon, mash them with a fork and add them back to the pot.

Salt is traditionally added towards the end.
Commonly used finishing touches: grated Parmesan, and a little bit of some good olive oil, added to each dish according to individual taste.


carne mechada [Richard Garet]

buy a big chunk of beef brisket.
boil it for long time until it is fully cooked and it is tender
remove from heat and let it become room temperature, and separate it by treads.

in a separate pan sáte one full head (or two) of chopped garlic with olive oil.
when the garlic starts to get golden add a big red onion either chopped or in thin rings cut in half.
after the onions gets cooked and lose their water and before they get fully soft add a crushed tomato from a mid-to-big can (something like 2 full pints of it).
then cook on low fire.

additionally, add some cumin, a touch of curry, salt, and two soup spoons of raw sugar.
basically it should look and feel like there is more sauce than meat.
then put the meat in the sauce and make sure that it’s well mixed together.
as for the wine: uruguayan red wine.
i don’t remember the name though.


baked potatoes [Ben]

kinda too simple to mention- cut, boil, roast with olive oil salt and pepper.


Super easy Shugiku (edible chrysanthemum leaves) Salad [Keiko]
– too easy! I’m ashamed to write as a ‘recipe’! ;p

1 bunch of Shungiku (avail from Sunrise Mart, JAS Mart, etc.  – Japanese supermarkets)
1 box of tofu (medium firm or whatever the firmness you’d prefer…) – better to be dried on paper towel if you have time (for 10 min?!)
bits of Yuzu pepper paste (green pepper version & red pepper version is avail. I used the green pepper one. – also avail from the above-mentioned Japanese supermarkets, or order online like this.
bits of Ponzu shoyu (yuzu shoyu), that is traditionally using bonito extracts in it, but the one I used is not w/ bonito, but w/ yeast extracts – pre-made bottles avail (also from the Japanese supermarkets above) & this one looks good (but never get one called ‘Aji-pon’ from Kikkoman! MSG in it.). Gluten-free version (but not w/ yuzu, it’s w/ lemon juice).

– Wash & rince the Shungiku bunch.
– Cut the clean Shungiku in 1 inch length & put aside.
– Cut the tofu in small & thin cubes (cut in half of the height, then cut in 4th of the short-side, and finally slice approx less than 1/2 in thickness of the long-side.
– mix above ingredients together. (never mind if some of the tofu would break.)
– sprinkle the Ponzu shoyu (start w/ small amount, and wait ’til you’d mix the next ingredients before adding more.)
– add fingertip-size of Yuzu pepper paste (one again, start w/ small amount. It’s very spicy!)
– Keep adjusting the balance of Ponzu & Yuzu pepper paste. It’s also recommended to leave the marinaded salad for approx 10 min to soak up the flavor before serving.

That’s it!!
It’s best to make your own home-made Ponzu but a bottle purchased from market works just fine!


Ok – So now I hope that everyone will be able to make their own FF events at home ; )

Final acknowledgments – recorded by Billy Gomberg, Eric Laska and Gill Arno at Fotofono, November 30 2010. Mastered by Gill Arno.
Thanks to everyone for their great contributions of one sort or another, and a special thank you to Billy Gomberg for invaluable recording help. Thanks also to Ricky Laska for handling the recorder during the last set.
Happy 2011, folks!

101003: twice good

The last Fotofono event was my favorite so far.
I always have to refrain from starting my posts like this, but this time I am not going to stop it. Eight participants were in, four locals and four from elsewhere. As good as they happened to be, the performances were preceded and I think activated by a potluck feast.

Something fundamental about Fotofono has become clear – on one side there is the high-quality music, while on the other side there is a wholehearted participatory aspect. Everybody realizes this causality, yet immediate (-ist?) relations seem to be complicated in a city like New York (or perhaps it is a matter of times rather than places).

So – cheers, everyone who has helped to make this a tangible reality, artists and audiences alike. The blog is now one year old! Starting today, all the great improvisers and friends of Fotofono will be listed in the category index under ‘participants abc’.

Bonnie Jones (electronics, mics, cassettes), Andrea Neumann (inner piano, etc.) [22 min. 56 sec.].
The opening set was the tail end of a tour that took Andrea and Bonnie up and down on a segment of the East coast. Their performance was enhanced by a remarkably confident interaction. The use of vocal sounds and singing was startling, at least to me – for a moment I felt transported to the intimate space of their car, in that time/space bubble in which you get when touring.. one city behind you, the next one a handful of hours beyond.
Margarida Garcia (amplified upright bass), Andrew Lafkas (acoustic upright bass), Barry Weisblat (electric piano) [27 min. 26 sec.].
Barry and Margarida have for sure a well established affinity in sound, and this is the first time that I see Andrew joining them for a trio. I think the three reached an incredible chemistry together. Spacey and kinda spooky, yet perfectly solid and attuned, this piece seems to come from another world.
Tim Catlin (electric sitar, electronics), Chris Cogburn (percussion, electronics) mpld (amplified slide projectors, computer) [38 min. 35 sec.]
Chris, Tim and I meet here for the first time as a trio. Actually, Tim and Chris had never met before, but were nice enough to try out this combo offhand. Our set was quiet, evolving slowly, longish, and yet very focused. I think that our search for a common space is palpable. I should leave any further comments to the listeners, really… still, a big joy for me to be in this group.


Download zipped files: ogg [284 MB]; 320 kbps mp3 [195.8 MB].

Recorded by Gill Arno at Fotofono, October 3 2010.
Thanks to Jo Jepsen for the photos of the second and third set.

Summertime news

I know….. we are experiencing delays with the blog updates. And yet, after quite a busy spring, our HOT studio summertime has definitely started – and will continue stepping up with more sessions and events in the months of July and August.

So this will be a loaded post. There are recordings and many images from the last event of May the 24, plus an extra recording from a recent studio session that happened on the 10 of June. The latter inaugurates a new blog category dedicated to the “closed doors sessions”. More information on this below.

Let’s start with the event of May the 24 – Ian Fraser, Jesse Kudler and Tim Albro were in town, giving us a great opportunity to have their trio to play here before Tim’s relocation to Rhode Island. Second set had Kyle Bobby Dunn and Michael Vincent Waller playing guitar over the video of Nick Zeig-Owens (not projected, but presented instead as a boxed picture in an old tv set). For a third set I joined (as mpld) Audrey Chen and percussionist Luca Marini who were just back from having toured Europe together in the previous weeks.

Tim Albro, Ian Fraser, Jesse Kudler. [26 min. 13 sec]

Excerpt from Kyle Bobby Dunn’s and Michael Vincent Waller’s duo set. [9 min. 54 sec.]

Audrey Chen, Luca Marini, mpld. [28 min. 47 sec.]

Download zipped files: ogg [208.6MB]; 320 kbps mp3 [142.4MB].
Recorded at Fotofono by Jesse Kudler on May 24, 2010.
Many thanks to Jesse for recording and mastering help.

Set 1: L to R Jesse Kudler, Ian Fraser, Tim Albro.

Set 2: Kyle Bobby Dunn.

Set 2: Michael Vincent Waller

Set 2: Nick Zeig-Owens

Set 3: Audrey Chen (foreground), Luca Marini’s shadow, mpld slide.

Above are a few photos of the 3 sets (by Theres Wegmann and myself). Also, to document the party before the concert I had asked our daughter Vera to ‘unobtrusively’ handle the camera duties for us – so here is an exclusive album of her fine portraiture. Thanks Vera! (now, I just hope to find out how the ‘album’ button works…)






As announced above, in the second part of this posting we introduce to the blog a new category: sessions is an area of the archive set to collect the recordings from the less formally convened meetings. Since much of the action at Fotofono happens besides the concert series, there is a growing accumulation of recordings stacking up. They document the evolving dynamics of an active community of artists and sometimes offer unexpected surprises, like interesting first-time meetings and assorted chance encounters that usually happen spontaneously and go unannounced.
I have been thinking for a while about pulling out of storage this material, and this looks like the right time to set up a new blog category dedicated to these ‘regular’ sessions..

I am not even going to fret about choosing what to post here first, as the latest recording matches pretty well all the requirements. Here goes the background story: Tucker Dulin’s old friend Patrick Crossland was visiting for a few concerts in town with Swiss-based Ensemble Laboratorium. Tucker summoned Andrew Lafkas and myself for an improvised session with three of Laboratorium’s members: trombonist Crossland, trumpet player Nenad Markovic and percussionist Rie Watanabe.

It turned out to be a great match. As no photos were shot to document the meeting, the picture above shows the setup that I was using during this take – radio feedback over the piano soundboard.

Session participants:
Andrew Lafkas – double bass
Nenad Markovic – trumpet
Patrick Crossland – trombone
Rie Watanabe – percussion
Tucker Dulin – trombone
Gill Arno – radio transmitter/receivers, piano soundboard

Improvised session with all the above [35 min. 33 sec.].

Download zipped files: ogg [125.3MB]; 320 kbps mp3 [77.9MB].
Recorded by Gill Arno at Fotofono, June 10 2010.


100418, b/e party

Next week Bryan and Eleanor Eubanks will be packing up and relocating to Florida. Looks like a great pretext to throw a Fotofono party and get to play together again. So — Theres bakes some pita bread, ice tea and wine flow, and after the dinner party the studio gets filled up almost over capacity with a small crowd of friends, for the most part artists themselves. The first set has Bryan with Andrew Lafkas, Tucker Dulin and myself (as mpld).
Second set is the first time as a duo for Aki Onda and Margarida Garcia. Margarida plays her electric double bass while Aki instead of the compact cassette table has a minimal setup with one tube amp, a Line Six and a hand-held radio.
Byron Westbrook ends it all with a gorgeous Corridors set. Using  multiple speakers and video projections he builds up a multidimensional space in which the perception of time becomes supple, and the audience is transfixed.


set 1 – Tucker Dulin (trombone), Bryan Eubanks (electronics), Andrew Lafkas (double bass), mpld (light and processed sound  from slide projectors).


set 2 – Margarida Garcia (double bass), Aki Onda (electronics).

set 3 – Corridors (Byron Westbrook – electronics, sound and  video projection)


Download zipped files of all three pieces: ogg; 320 kbps mp3.

The three images above are from the mpld projection.
Special thanks to Byron Westbrook for bringing down his recording equipment and documenting the concert.

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