Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Otomo Yoshihide

Leaving the Jazz Cafe

A Personal View Of Japanese Improvised Music in the 1970s

by Otomo Yoshihide
Jazz Kissa

For myself, the most stimulating music in the 1970s was without doubt the Japanese free music of the time. Of course in Japan, as with the rest of the world, there was only a small population of listeners to this type of music, and it was in the jazz cafes of the provincial town of Fukushima, 300 kms north of Tokyo, that I first became acquainted with it.

I was a high school student living in Fukushima in the mid-70s. Even for a high-schooler then, the word 'jazz' had an old fashioned ring to it. It was the music that our parents had been into, and we were mainly of a generation that listened to rock. Still, the 'jazz kissa' (1), a phenomenon which probably existed only in Japan, was the ideal place to hang out and kill time when cutting class.


2.5 by 6 metres space. That and a pair of huge JBL or Altec speakers, a couple hundred jazz records and a bar counter were all that was necessary to open your basic jazz kissa. This was also a place rich with the youth subculture of the day. Avant-garde jazz, manga, music and culture magazines, notebooks filled with the opinions of young leftists, concerts every one or two months, and 8 millimetre film shows. Younger frequenters like myself were after the manga books. (2) There one could stay for hours to read a week's worth of manga over a single cup of coffee, then costing about 250 yen (about one US dollar), and besides, it was a lot more interesting than going to school. Youth subculture revolved around manga.

In the mid-1970s there were many young adults coming into the provincial cities from Tokyo, disillusioned by their defeat in the college student uprisings. This was part of the reason why, even in the smallest of such towns, there was always a jazz kissa. For those of us who were raised in the small towns, the jazz kissa opened a window into the cultural scene in Tokyo.

The jazz kissa would often be run by an arty, interesting man or woman, who would play records on their system all day long according to their own taste. In Fukushima, which then had a population of 270 thousand, there were four jazz kissa, two of which were quite hard core, playing music by Charlie Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, and sometimes Derek Bailey or Evan Parker. These two were the ones I frequented. In time, I became a hard core jazz fan in addition to being a hard core rock fan. Of the music that I heard, I was especially drawn to Abe Kaoru and Takayanagi Masayuki.
Takayanagi "Jojo" Masayuki (3)

One of the representative guitarists of Japan, Takayanagi was the first to pursue non-commercial forms of improvised jazz. I was especially stimulated by his commentaries which I read in various jazz media. In his somewhat severe writing style, he would scrutinise jazz or improvised music always from the vantage point of its relationship with society.


In the jazz boom of the early 1960s, Takayanagi was also the first to start independent, non-commercialised workshops by musicians themselves (known by names such as the "Gin-Paris sessions"). From these scenes rose some of the musicians who would later represent the Japanese free jazz of the 1970s, such as Togashi Masahiko and Yamashita Yohsuke. However, in the 70s Takayanagi parted ways from that free jazz movement and begin to pursue a style of noise music improvisation unheard of elsewhere.

Takayanagi, who in the 50s to early 60s was a well-known cool jazz guitarist, by the 70s became the guitarist who played the loudest volume and noisiest feedback in Japan. I doubt that he had heard of AMM or Derek Bailey then, and he did not follow any rock style in his performance. Contrasting with this method - which he himself termed "Mass Direction", he had another style, called "Gradual Direction". This was a method that sheared off sounds, a spatial style which was at times performed acoustically. And parallel to this, he had a Tristano-style four-beat jazz guitar combo, and an orthodox free jazz guitar trio. This variety often threw his audiences off. Too extreme for jazz fans, and too inconsistent for fans of free music.


Needless to say however, Takayanagi was indeed consistent throughout his life in his dedication to an independent pursuit of self-expression against the background of society, and the scrutinising of his own identity through improvisation. Apart from an appearance at the Moers Jazz Festival in 1980, his performances were solely in small clubs in Tokyo before small audiences. Up to his death in 1991 at the age of 58, he was a fighter who played the most extreme music in Japan. His solo album of tape collage and prepared guitar, Action Direct, echoes like a lone hammer in the midst of the economic thriving of Japan. I was profoundly influenced by his music and attitude through the 70s and 80s, and his music continues to be a father figure to me.
Abe Kaoru (4)


An independent film director by the name of Wakamatsu Kohji undertook a film based on the lives of Abe Kaoru and his wife Suzuki Izumi, a popular writer. The film was released in 1995 and has been drawing much attention from young audiences. Sax player Abe Kaoru, who died in 1978 of a drug overdose, and left behind many other legends, was a sole charismatic figure in the world of Japanese free jazz. During his lifetime he released a mere 3 or 4 records, yet there have been more than ten CDs released of his solo live performances posthumously. All of these have sold well for free music recordings, and there are at least three books written about him. Abe Kaoru continues to be a social phenomenon in the underground world after his death.

Luc Ferrari Otomo Yoshihide - Slow Landing (2008).

The first gig that I ever paid to see was in fact Abe Kaoru, at a jazz kissa in Fukushima. I was a high school student at the time, and his all-improvised performance on alto and soprano sax was something beyond my comprehension. But his feedback noise performance using the electric guitar that I happened to have that day was perhaps one of the things that led to my starting free music myself. As a teenager watching his performance, I know I must have thought, "I could do something like this".

This solo performance was recorded on video, and I have since had the opportunity once or twice to see this private document. Seeing it from my own vantage today, the sax he played seems to be a certain pure kind of punk, rather than free jazz or free improvisation.

Otomo Yoshihide On WFMU! from WFMU on Vimeo.

Abe appeared on the scene in the late 60s, at the age of 20. In the 1970s he met Takayanagi through one of the most aggressive and progressive music critics of that time, Aquilax Aida. There remains a single document of their performances together, Kaitaiteki Kohkan, of which only 300 were pressed. The improvisation by the two musicians on this record is much too noisy and extreme to be called free improvisation.


While Takayanagi's purpose lay in honing his improvisational language upon a groundwork of noise, born from his cool observations of society, Abe was concerned with the physicality of the saxophone, and asserting himself as a social phenomenon in the midst of the socio-political climate of the 1970s. This was, looking back on it now, similar to the charisma of rock music or punk.

Alongside many opposing sects in the 1970s Tokyo free jazz scene, Abe eventually came to fall out with Takayanagi, and until his death in 1978 he continued to live a life of solo performances and habitual drugs. I myself cannot relate to his decadent lifestyle, but I can say that his music was what planted the seeds of my later interest in punk and noise music.

 From free jazz to non-category improvisation (mid-1970s)

What Takayanagi and Abe shared was an almost stoic negation of modern day society, and their pure approach to improvisation. The other people of the free music scene in the 1970s more or less shared this same attitude. It also widened the distances between the various sects of that same scene.

In the mid-70s, which was around the time that I became interested in this movement, a second generation of Japanese free music was being born, together with new styles of group improvisation. That first generation - which included Takayanagi, Abe, Yamashita Yohsuke (piano), Togashi Masahiko (percussion), Toyozumi Yoshisaburo (drums), Yoshizawa Motoharu (5) (bass), Takagi Mototeru (sax), Oki Itaru (trumpet), Nakamura Tatsuya (drums), Yamazaki Hiroshi (drums), Sato Masahiko (piano), Midorikawa Keiki (cello), Fujikawa Yoshiaki (sax) - had deep jazz influences; but the second generation - groups such as Shudan Sokai, New Jazz Syndicate and Seikatsu Kohjoh Iinkai - headed toward a more non-categorical direction. From these groups emerged musicians such as Doctor Umezu (sax), and Kondo Toshinori (trumpet).

From a completely different direction, the alternative rock scene of the late 1960s, which did not share that free jazz parentage, came musicians such as Haino Keiji, who has built up an utterly unique style of improvisation with loud guitar and voice. Also those with a background in pop such as Sakamoto Ryuichi and Chino Shuichi (both keyboards), and Kosugi Takehisa from the contemporary classical world. There have also been musicians for whom improvisation itself was the very starting point, such as Takeda Kenichi (taisho-koto), Iijima Akira (guitar), and Hirose Junji (sax). The input from these musicians helped to enrich the vocabulary of the 1970s improvised music scene, which had previously relied largely on free jazz.

By producing a solo album by Abe Kaoru and Yoshizawa Motoharu, organising concerts by Milford Graves and Derek Bailey, writing about musicians such as Han Bennink and Evan Parker in many magazines, and realizing the domestic release of Incus Records, the critic Aquilax Aida worked to bring a wider audience to improvised music. Soejima Teruto, another music critic, organised the first ever free music festival featuring most of the musicians of that first generation, titled "Inspiration and Power"; recordings were later released as a double LP. This critic also travelled across Japan with 8mm film documentation of the Moers Jazz Festival, doing film shows at jazz kissa all over the country. The poet Shimizu Toshihiko introduced and wrote criticisms on free music in various different media, in his trademark dry writing style. His writings from 1960 to today have already been compiled into three books, and this is the best of guides to free music currently available. (6)

These movements in Tokyo were observed by myself in fragments from various magazines, 8mm film shows, gigs and records in the jazz kissa of Fukushima. Between 1978 and 79, the year two central figures of the scene, Abe Kaoru and Aquilax Aida died, I decided to move out to Tokyo to become a musician like Takayanagi Masayuki. I was 19 years old. The age of politics and subculture came to an end, and Tokyo entered an age of great economic wealth in which all subculture attempted to flow into the mainstream. Entering the 1980s, the jazz kissa drastically diminished, and myself, a free jazz youth from the provinces, lost my sense of direction amidst this change. This sense of loss eventually turned me in a direction toward a new and different kind of improvisation. I will talk about this some other time.

  1. 'Kissa' - cafe in Japanese.

  2. 'Manga' - comics. By the late 60s manga were an influential media among youth in Japan, especially avant-garde manga such as Taro.

  3. Takayanagi "Jojo" Masayuki (1932 - 1991). Of noteworthy works, the following are currently available on CD:
    • Takayanagi Masayuki New Direction 1970, Call In Question, PSF Records PFSD 41. Earliest free style live performance.

    • Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit, April Is The Cruellest Month, Kojima Recordings AR1. Studio recording from 1975.

    • Masayuki Takayanagi, Lonely Woman. Single-note solo jazz guitar, recorded in 1982, playing tunes from Tristano to Ornette Coleman.

    • Angry Waves, 850113 Aketa's Disc. Live performance from 1985. Free jazz concept guitar trio.

    • Masayuki Takayanagi Action Direct, Inanimate Nature, Jinya Disk LMCD 1168. One of his last recordings (1990) of noise solo live performance on tapes and guitar.

  4. Abe Kaoru (1949 - 1978). Currently available:
    • Abe Kaoru solo, Mata No Hi No Yume Monogatari, PSF Records PSF 40. Solo performance from 1972.

    • Derek Bailey, Duo And Trio Improvisation, DIW 358. 1978 collaboration with Derek Bailey. Also with Yoshizawa Motoharu, Kondo Toshinori, Takagi Mototeru, Tsuchitori Tomoyuki.

    • Kaoru Abe, Last Date 8.28.1978, DIW 335. Abe's last solo performance.

  5. Yoshizawa's solo bass improvisation record was recently re-released on CD.
    • Yoshizawa Motoharu, Wareta Kagami Matawa Kaseki No Tori, PSF 55. Yoshizawa was the first bass improviser in Japan, and has been active since 1969 alongside Takayanagi's New Direction, Abe Kaoru, Yamashita Yohsuke, Kosugi Masahiko and Togashi Masahiko. While many of this first generation have died, or for practical reasons have stopped playing free music, or have sought protection within the small shelter of jazz, Yoshizawa is one of the few figures who continues to openly collaborate in free improvisation with various musicians to this day. He is 63 years old.

  6. Other recordings of early free improvisation in Japan currently available on CD:
    • Oki Itaru Trio, Satsujin Kyoshitsu, Mobys 0013. Produced by Soejima Teruto in 1969, one of the first albums of Japanese free jazz. Oki Itaru (tp), Midorikawa Keiki (b, p), Tanaka Nozomi (dr, perc).

    • Fushitsusha, Tamashi No Jyunai, Purple Trap 001-4. An important documentaion of Haino Keiji's home recordings from 1969-72, and live performances from 1971 and 73.

    • Yamashita Yohsuke Trio, Dancing Kojiki, Teirenkessha DANC 3. Earliest of the Yamashita Trio. Document of a 1969 performance taking place inside the barricades of a student demonstration.

Resonance, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1995: Special Japanese Issue
English Translation by Ito Haruna


Monday, December 30, 2013

Taku Sugimoto


Myshkin Musicu (for electric guitar)

1. Kira

2. Marguerite

3. Madarkam

4. Bateau

5. Guitar Amp II

6. Improvisation
Electric Guitar - Kevin Drumm
Percussion - Atsuko Ono* , Michael Hartman
Reeds - Michael Colligan
Tape, Electronics [Cd], Koto [Electric] - Brent Gutzeit
Tape, Viola, Electric Guitar - Tetuzi Akiyama

7. Bell

8. Madarkam II

Born in Tokyo, December 20, 1965, Taku Sugimoto started playing guitar when he was a high school student. At first he played rock and blues, and then he also became interested in free jazz, European free improvised music, and avant-garde classical music.

In 1985, Sugimoto co-founded the improvisational psychedelic rock band Piero Manzoni, whose main influences were the Velvet Underground and MC5. The group, including Masaki Bato on bass and Sugimoto on guitar, disbanded in '88. For the next few years, Sugimoto was involved in solo performance and session work. It was during this period that he released his first solo LP, Mienai Tenshi ('88), which had a big, heavy sound.

In '91, Sugimoto started playing cello, and for the next two years abandoned the guitar in order to focus completely on this instrument. He formed Henkyo Gakudan (which was active in '91-'92) with alto sax player Hiroshi Itsui and guitarist Michio Kurihara. The group's music sounded like somewhat high-volume improvised chamber music. Sugimoto was also briefly a member, in '93, of the psychedelic rock band Ghost, and in '94, of Tetuzi Akiyama's avant-garde classical music band Hikyo String Quintet. After releasing his cello solo CD Slub in '94, Sugimoto gave up the cello.

Sugimoto and Tetuzi Akiyama launched their guitar duo Akiyama-Sugimoto in '94. From that time, Sugimoto gradually shifted from a loud, heavy sound to the extremely quiet sound, full of silences, which he established through solo and other projects as his own unique style. In 1998, together with Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura, he launched the inspiring monthly concert series The Improvisation Meeting at Bar Aoyama (renamed The Experimental Meeting at Bar Aoyama in '99, and Meeting at Off Site in 2000), which he continued to organize until his retirement from the series in February 2001.

Currently Sugimoto's interest focuses on composition and its performance, rather than improvisation. With Taku Unami and Masahiko Okura, Sugimoto organizes the almost-monthly Chamber Music Concert at Loop-Line and the irregular Taku Sugimoto Composition Series at Kid Ailack Art Hall, both in Tokyo. He runs the label Slub Music, which in addition to Sugimoto's own recordings releases CDs by Taku Unami, Kazushige Kinoshita, Radu Malfatti, Antoine Beuger, and others. 


Nelson Palen

Beloit woodworker strikes a new note with handmade guitars

© 2002 The Associated Press
Gary Demuth
The Salina Journal

BELOIT, Kan. (AP) - Nelson Palen builds some of the sweetest sounding guitars in existence, and he doesn't even play the instrument. 

Palen may not be a musician, but during the past three years, he has earned the respect of jazz guitarists throughout the world. When these professionals pick up one of Palen's archtop guitars, they instantly know they are playing an instrument with a unique tone, depth and resonance. 

Nelson Palen of Beloit is seen through a template last month while holding one of the archtop electric jazz guitars he made in his basement workshop. Famed jazz guitarist and singer George Benson bought one of Palen's creations. 


Famed jazz guitarist and singer George Benson bought one of Palen's guitars last year at a classic guitar show in Long Island, New York. Rodney Jones, professor of jazz guitar studies at the Manhattan School of Music in New York and former lead guitarist on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," was so impressed with Palen's guitars he offered to endorse them. 

"What makes them great is an intangible thing, like a great painting," Jones said from his home in New York. "Having played the guitar for 39 years, I know a great one when I feel it. Nelson's an artist who just happens to make guitars." Since 1999, Palen has built and sold 18 guitars and has 10 more in various stages of completion in his basement workshop. Each guitar sells for about $4,800. 


Palen's sudden success has taken him by surprise. A design engineer at Sunflower Manufacturing in Beloit, Palen, 56, had been a woodworker most of his life and for 12 years designed and sold decorative wooden bowls. While that was satisfying work, Palen was itching to find something to make that would really challenge his carving skills. A co-worker there encouraged him to make his first guitar. 


Palen credits the Internet with supplying him a wealth of information on archtop guitar- building, an instrument used primarily in jazz music. He took an Internet-based guitar-making class, and bought a video on the subject. He also corresponded with other archtop builders. 


The back panel and soundboard (front) of the archtop are made from two thin wedges of wood. When these pieces of wood are glued together and carved into a dome shape at the center, the look is similar to that of a violin. The front of Palen's guitars are made from Engleman spruce from the northeastern U.S., and the back plate and sides are made from Oregon, Washington or Vancouver maple. 



To cut a precise shape for the guitar, Palen uses a homemade lathe he built eight years ago
from scrap iron. After shaping the guitar, Palen uses a cabinet scraper to shave the wood even
more finely, stopping periodically to tap the surface of the wood in a technique called "tap

"You listen to the tone produced. You should get a clear tone - not a particular note, but a crisp tone," he said. He continues the scraping and tapping until the tone is just right.
"Each one will sound just a little different, as opposed to something that's just an assembly-line product. You try to make them the same as possible, but each guitar is unique." 


Palen estimates it takes him about 150 hours to build a guitar, working 30 hours a week on evenings and weekends.
Palen built three guitars before he got up the courage to sell one on the Internet. A man from New Jersey bought the guitar on eBay, then told his business partner about the instrument's high quality. Suddenly Palen had a promoter and distributor, Lou Del Rosso, who runs a business called guitarsnjazz.com.


He said the instant he held Palen's guitar, he knew it was remarkable. "The tone is just wonderful," said Del Rosso said from his office in Summit, N.J. "I've had many professional players comment on its resonant tone. Anyone with a good ear can tell how good it is."
George Benson certainly knew. 


The famed jazz guitarist tested one of Palen's guitars at the Long Island Classic Guitar Show, then turned to Del Rosso and asked if he could buy it. "He said it was a beautiful guitar, and then he handed me his American Express card," Del Rosso said. "I  lmost fell over."

Today, Del Rosso said, there is a waiting list for Palen's guitars, and he believes as Palen continues to refine his skills, his reputation will grow. "Consistency is the most important thing Nelson has," Del Rosso said. "I think his woodworking background helped a lot, but he's also able to produce guitars that have a consistent sound, and that's not an easy thing to do."

Jones agreed: "His guitars have a resonance that transcends the wood. I think it's an intuitive process for him. He has a sensitivity and awareness of his craft, and he puts love and feeling into each guitar he makes. He's an artist through his craft."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lou Reed

 Mbuty Pygmy Painting

Life is like Sanskrit read to a pony

Lou Reed
Happy Life Day



MICHEL HENRITZI - NOTHING (CDR by Dyin' Ghost Records)
Even when Michel Henritzi doesn't sing, his music is true blues music. Music of pain, loneliness, anxiety. He plays guitar, lapsteel and amplifier. Nothing more is required by him to play his tunes. Twelve pieces of lonesome cowboy music. He plays his pieces with great pace, beautiful style and seemingly with great ease. Music that showcases empty deserts, lonely roads, wind and storm over spacious grass fields. 'Nothing' is a more than appropriate title for such a release. Long, empty pieces. Not something you 'just' put on. But something to be totally immersed by, rather than easily play as a background tune. Even when its 'nothing' its totally demanding music. Music that requires one's full attention and music that won't make you 'happy'. You probably feel 'empty' afterwards. To feel 'nothing' is impossible. Long one, but a great release, and one that requires such a length.

Franz De Waard in VITAL

Michel Henritzi - guitar, lapsteel & amp
recorded at home
dedicated to towns van zandt and taku sugimoto

Keith Rowe


"The art" of music making becomes the "art itself", moving away from the visceral chic that has characterised much of improvised music, towards an investigation of tension, silence, stillness, economy, volume, sensation, time, pulse, what is it to be a musician? Indeed, what is music?



…a spirited, dedicated guitarist and composer whose creative reach extends through and beyond the jazz idiom. She has remained loyal to the true nature of jazz improvisation by telling great stories on her instrument; her mature phrasing and emotional power are striking.
David Tronzo 

Amanda Monaco Since moving to New York City, 
she has performed with a variety of musical groups, from jazz chamber ensembles and big bands to regular appearances with her own groups at such venues as Birdland, Joe’s Pub, and The Blue Note, to name a few.

Amanda’s current projects includes her quartet (aka Deathblow), a jazz and improvisational music ensemble that combines free-bop sensibilities with through-composed pieces equal parts textural, adventurous, and whimsical. With alto/baritone saxophonist Michaël Attias, bassist Sean Conly, and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, this quartet performs a mix of Amanda’s original compositions and modern twists on classic and obscure jazz repertoire. Their debut CD, I Think I’ll Keep You, is on the Japanese label LateSet Records.

Amanda also co-leads the quintet Playdate with old friends Noah Baerman (piano) and Wayne Escoffery (tenor saxophone) and new friends Henry Lugo (bass) and Vinnie Sperrazza.  They can be seen performing around New York City and their debut recording has been released on Posi-Tone Records in late 2009.

Amanda is also a resident musician at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City, and appears on both of their recordings, Halailah Hazeh: The music of Pesah and Teki Yah: The High Holy Days. She is currently working on a suite of music using text from the Pirke Avot, a collection of rabbinical teachings compiled in the third century C.E., sung in Hebrew and Aramaic by Israel vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb and accompanied by Monaco on electric guitar, with Daphna Mor on recorders and nay, Sean Conly on bass, and Satoshi Takeishi on percussion.

An educator since 1990, Amanda has served on the faculty of New School University, and presently teaches at the National Guitar Workshop, on the innovative web site WorkshopLive, and at Berklee College of Music. Her book, Jazz Guitar for the Absolute Beginner (Alfred Publishing), is available worldwide.

Amanda received her M.A.from The City College of New York in 2008.  In her undergraduate years, Amanda studied with Ted Dunbar, Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid and Harold Mabern.  She received her B.Mus from William Paterson University.

Amanda plays a Brian Moore iGuitar and D’Addario Strings.

1. Which was the first record you bought with your own money?
Probably Kind of Blue. I started attending a school for the arts in my junior year of high school, and that was the first jazz record my teacher assigned. It was also the first jazz record I had ever heard at that point, and I promptly wore the cassette out after countless listenings.

2. Which was the last record you bought with your own money?
Elements of Style, Exercises in Surprise, by the Vandermark 5. I find Ken Vandermark's music to be very exciting and creative, incredibly loose yet structured.


3. What was the first solo you learned from a record — and can you still play it?
The first solo I learned from a record was Miles Davis' solo on "So What," and I can still play it. It was the first class assignment I had at the arts high school I went to. We all had to learn "So What" and then we were paired off to transcribe the rest of Miles' solos on the record. It was a really great introduction to jazz, as it was the first time I had ever had any experience listening to and playing it.

4. Which recording of your own (or as a sideman) are you most proud of, and why?
My quartet CD, Amanda Monaco 4. We rehearsed every week for six months, then went into the Bennett Studios in Englewood, New Jersey, and knocked the whole thing out in five hours. The engineer set us up in a circle, just the way we’d rehearsed, and we recorded live to two-track. We had a blast, and the CD came out great.

5. What's the difference between playing live and playing in a studio?
Live gigs have an audience to connect with; studio playing is where you think more about the product you'll be delivering to your audience.

6. What's the difference between a good gig and a bad gig?
A good gig is when the music really gets you in that beautiful groove of a way; a bad gig is when you just don't feel the musicians are communicating with each other. And of course, it's always an annoying gig when the audience is disrespectful — since when is it acceptable to scream over any musical performance?

7. What's the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar?
A good guitar stays in tune from song to song and has good intonation. A good guitar doesn't make you fight it to make music on it.

8. You play electric and acoustic. Do you approach the two differently?

Not really, though there are gigs that I play entirely on acoustic guitar that are very different from what I play with my quartet.

9. Do you sound more like yourself on acoustic or electric?
Definitely on electric, though I don't really change my style so much from one to the other.

10. Do you sound like yourself on other people's guitars?
I think I do. Even when it's not my guitar, I make a point of trying to play how I play, not really thinking, "Oh, this guitar is different."

11. Which living artist (music, or other arts) would you like to collaborate with?
I'd love to collaborate with Matt Wilson. He's one of the most creative musicians I know. Also, Ken Vandermark — I love what he's writing and playing these days.

12. What dead artist (music, or other arts) would you like to have collaborated with?
Since my teens, I’d always wanted to play in Joe Henderson's band. When he died without that happening, I was sad.

13. What's your latest project about (2011)?
My latest projects are the ones I've devoted a lot of time to over the past several years — my all-female "cocktail pop" quartet the Lascivious Biddies, and my jazz quartet Amanda Monaco 4. Both involve a lot of room to grow. With the Biddies, someone brings in a new song — either original or something obscure — and we rearrange it, throw in some four-part harmonies, and make it a group effort. In my quartet, we play all original music and try playing it different ways, too.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Clinic at 5 p.m., Jam Session 7-10 p.m.

AM – Guitar
Sam Trapchak – Bass
Brian Woodruff – Drums
Flushing Town Hall
137-35 Northern Blvd
Flushing, NY 11354
718-463-7700 x 222
Clinic: Free
Jam Session: Free for musicians, $10 for listeners


Amanda Monaco
“The Pirkei Avot Project Volume One”

Genevieve Records, 2011
Order online at CDBaby
Amanda Monaco
“I Think I’ll Keep You”

LateSet Records, 2009
Order online at Amazon


Amanda Monaco 4

Innova Recordings, 2007
Order online at www.innova.mu

Amanda Monaco 4
“Amanda Monaco 4″

Genevieve Records, 2004
Order online at www.cdbaby.com/am4

Soul Force
Noah Baerman
“Soul Force”

Lemel Music, 2005
Order online at lemelrecords.com


The Lascivious Biddies
“Get Lucky” 

Biddilicious Music, 2004
Order online at biddies4ever.com

Teki Yah, The Music of the High Holy Days at BJ 
self-produced, 2004
order online at

The Lascivious Biddies 
”I Feel Biddy”

Biddilicious Music, 2003
out of print

The Music of Pesah at BJ 
self-produced, 2003
order online at


The Lascivious Biddies ”Biddi-luxe!” 
Biddilicious Music, 2002
order online at