Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Ting Ting Loft: A Short Retrospective

This doesn't really count as a year-end highlights sort of thing, but I have been meaning to jot down some thoughts on the metamorphosis from what was once a trio (who occasionally welcomed additional sit-ins) to a full-fledged quintet, New Ting Ting Loft. The trio (New Loft: Jimmy, Tim, and I) were a pretty tight-knit unit, weathering and coming out of the loss of Jon Mela from the group with a renewed sense of purpose and direction: all improv, pretty much all the time. Like I said, we would occasionally have folks sit in, and it would always be enjoyable. One memorable gig was the Joyful Noise Big Band Sun Ra tribute show, back in 2003. New Loft opened, and we took advantage of the presence of so many like-minded friends being there for the big band by having several of them join our set, one at a time, over the course of the half-hour-or-so improv.

Some of the folks that made the trio a temporary quartet (or more) over the years include Daniel Barbiero, Molly Berg, Dave Brogan, Will Bryce, Jeff Byrd, Chris Davis, Hunter Duke, Paul Faatz, Danny Finney, Elias Ghaphery, Eric Helm, Matt Heyner, Michael Thomas Jackson, Brian Jones, Pat Lawrence, Whitney Lynn, Marty McCavitt, Fred McGann, Chris McQuale, Phil Murphy, Brian Osborne, Cliff Schwing, Mike Sebastian, Harvey Sorgen, Chris Vasi, Chris Videll, and Harry Walker.

Our development changed with the permanent addition of Tommy and Ben from Ting Ting Jahe. It was Jimmy's idea to shake things up by inviting the two electronic noisters formerly known as the Pussy Boys (don't ask) to join us as the Godzilla Meets King Kong Quintet. Things clicked right away from the beginning, as can be heard on our first time playing together, 2013-05-06, and our first gig, 2013-05-13.

Godzilla Meets King Kong Quintet, 2013-05-06:

Godzilla Meets King Kong Quintet, live 2013-05-13:

In many ways, the timing was perfect. All three of us were ready for the quantum leap. In terms of my own playing, I had long enjoyed the various noise and electronic avant musicians we'd often shared shows with. Over the last few years, I’d begun getting more and more into experimentation with physical handling of things and combining them with the kit, scraping objects together and generating non-idiomatic sounds and textures...that kind of activity is fun in and of itself, and it serves to put me in a great mind set for when I return to sticks. It changes the way I play. Jimmy had recently expanded his arsenal to include clarinet, and his approach to that instrument comes as much from abstract noise as from “conventional” playing. In the meanwhile, Tim had acquired an electronic keyboard, and his often unconventional coaxing of sound from it (like playing it with the neck of his guitar) widely expanded our palette.

So we were primed for Tommy and Ben's unique approaches to sound and texture. Their arsenal of sound possibilities (electronics, keyboards, prepared guitar, scraped and bowed styrofoam, 8-tracks, samples, radio, contact mics, Android apps, and other unknown sources of sound) perfectly melded with our direction, and enabled us to veer off into new territories. Having it be permanent has solidified us as a band, creating more opportunities for interaction and for sub-sets of sound activity within the quintet. Lots of room for noise, and lots of room for space. We don’t always all play at the same time, and there’s no need to; something’s always going on, and it’s always interesting.

Chart our progress on the Internet Archive. We try to get together once a week; Jimmy is kind enough to record our sessions with his Edirol R09HR digital recorder and he gets me the file for uploading within the week. So, new stuff popping up all the time! So, feeling adventurous? Check out this week's session:

Charley Vision Gets a Rehaul (January 26, 2015):

And if you’re feeling really adventurous: we are available for parties.

2018 update:
New Ting Ting Loft has further solidified our music footprint with the addition of Fred McGann as a permanent member. Fred's unique sensibility and sense of adventure have expanded our sonic horizons considerably. Keyboard, guitar, trombone, contact mics, baby doll heads, knives, tables, ball bearings, cassette tapes, etc. In the past few years, we have also expanded to include the sporadic presence of guitarist Alex Ricart. We're still available for parties.

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