Keith Rowe

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jon abbey
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Keith Rowe

Post by jon abbey »

he's probably the most discussed musician on this site, but somehow (unless I'm just missing it), he's never had a dedicated thread. I've been meaning to start one for a while, but with the recent kerfuffle in the Live Reports thread, it seems like an appropriate time. in the "Critics" thread a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was beginning a print publication, in part inspired by the IMJ magazines, in which I'll ask those closest to musicians (usually their long-time collaborators) to write from an insider perspective. I've thought about doing a Keith piece myself for this, and so this thread will be a chance for me to flesh out some of those thoughts, as well as a place for anyone who wants to chime in with opinions, questions, reviews, links, whatever.

so, there seems to be a perception among some people that criticism of Keith will not be tolerated here, and I don't think that's the case. Mark and I both happen to be huge fans of the man, and quite a few of his fans have gravitated here over the years, so the site obviously skews in that direction. we started IHM in 2003 (http://ihatemusic.proboards24.com) in part as a refuge from the silliness that permeated/permeates virtually every online discussion forum, and I don't see the need to apologize for people here loving some or most or all of his output. I have my share of differences with him, musically and otherwise, and even with some of his projects (see my posts in the 'Sight' thread, for instance), but in terms of his output and his way of thinking about our music, I find him consistently inspiring, far more than any other musician in the world. after I spend time with him, I inevitably find myself energized and more excited about the state of the music going forward than I did before. even after all the time I've spent with him, he still makes me rethink my core beliefs from time to time. this is a 68 year old man (older than Bob Dylan!), who still refuses to stand still creatively, continually reinventing himself even if it means his work is weaker initially because of it. that's quite rare at any age, and almost unheard of that late in life.

anyway, that's enough for now, maybe more later. and just to be clear, this isn't intended to be inflammatory in any way, quite the opposite.

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J.F.
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by J.F. »

One thing I found kinda disappointing about the way things apparently can go on this board was when being called a troll after attempting to critically (but I think in a fair way) discuss AMM's music - including having a look at what Rowe did in that band.
I'm curious how this thread develops.
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jon abbey
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by jon abbey »

that thread is here, feel free to pick it up there if you feel like you have more to say on the matter:

http://ihatemusic.noquam.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2895

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J.F.
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by J.F. »

I stated my basic impressions about what I heard there, nothing really to add right now, sitting here with my morning coffee and not having heard those recordings again since then.

But I guess I'll enjoy watching in which way this thread unfolds. :P


Oh - but one thing: I read a few manifesto-like texts by Prevost - is there something similar by Rowe? (maybe something with easy access, on the www?)
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jon abbey
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by jon abbey »

Keith hasn't done a whole lot of writing, no full books like Eddie or John. he's done some notes to CDs:

http://www.erstwhilerecords.com/catalog/021.html
http://www.erstwhilerecords.com/catalog/030.html

there's probably other stuff around too, but that's a start.

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faster
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by faster »

Okay, here's a question:

When will he have his notes for "The Room" ready?

I met Keith in Tokyo in Sept. for the first time. Didn't talk much, but he was very nice, very easy-going. Seemed to have a good sense of humor. Oh, and he played his ass off, finally jettisoning the comfy drone underpinnings that have always kinda bugged me in his playing.
You, of all people, should understand

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Yii
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by Yii »

could you tell us about this, richard? a cornelius cardew tribute album or something?
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jkudler
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by jkudler »

one thing i have been very curious about and have never really seen addressed (it could be in a part of one of prevost's books that i skipped) is keith's quitting music for a time during his "maoist phase." assuming that that is even accurate. i am curious why and how he quit, how he came back to playing music, if he reconciled his reservations, etc. i almost wrote him an email to ask about this this past year, with the election and the state of the world, etc. curious if anyone knows more about this; i plan to ask mr. rowe next time he's in philly, whenever that might be.

-jesse

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jon abbey
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by jon abbey »

Brian O can answer that last one more thoroughly than me, although the short answer I'm getting from Keith (standing right here) is that he never actually quit music. in 1973-1974, he decided that music was unimportant compared to trying to help right some of the wrongs in the world, but he never renounced making music or officially quit or anything like that, and it was a pretty brief period.

Joe, he took a shot at The Room notes, but they weren't really comprehensible to anyone else but him, very boiled down with a lot of jumps. he's done some work on them since that, but I haven't seen them again and they're not done yet. I bug him periodically for them, I'll keep doing so.

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Brian Olewnick
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by Brian Olewnick »

While he didn't "give up" music, I don't think he produced very much in the period between the dissolution of AMM proper and his involvement with PLM (beginning in '74). What there was consisted mostly of duo performances with Cardew. Unfortunately, I've not been able to hear the existing tapes of those sets yet (Tilbury has and references them in the Cardew bio) but from what I've been able to gather, Keith's contributions are really not so far from his work with AMM, a major exception being the intentional tuning in on radio of politically "appropriate" broadcasts, such as Radio Tirane or the equivalent. One thing I was unaware of until recently (and which was never captured on recordings to my knowledge) was that Cardew, ever since joining AMM, would often break into a song of sorts (vocally, that is), often a traditional Irish melody or the like, while rolling himself a cigarette perhaps. So the Rowe/Cardew music might not have been as much of a deviation from prior AMM music as I would have otherwise guessed.

But generally, yes, music became subservient to working for the party for a few years and the work with PLM was much more "functional" (rallying the troops, etc.) than musical.

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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by DDG »

Just to note I drove up to Oakland, CA (with Gerardo and Surfer) to hear Keith Rowe and students at Mills College perfrom Cardew's "The Tiger's Mind" last Saturday. I was especially pleased because I'd met Cardew over forty years ago in Buffalo. We sat up close and heard the three sections: Daypiece, Guitar Solo Twilight version, and Nightpiece. We agreed that the awesome parts were the Guitar solo and Nightpiece. Even got a big smile out of Rowe at the end. Audience members included Fred Frith and Roscoe Mitchell.

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jon abbey
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by jon abbey »

welcome, David!

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DDG
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by DDG »

Thanks, Jon. I look forward to reading your contributions.

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surfer
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by surfer »

There was a funny moment during the reception / buffet when Gerardo was trying to tell David about this message board, and because Gerardo had some food in his mouth, and the ambient noise, David couldnt really understand him. After a few seconds, Gerardo repeated himself, loudly, "I Hate Music!".

"I Hate Music!"

He got a few stares.

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bryan
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by bryan »

faster wrote:Oh, and he played his ass off, finally jettisoning the comfy drone underpinnings that have always kinda bugged me in his playing.
I wish I had more time, but I'll try and put a few words together here..

Along the lines of what Joe said above, though I'm not sure he'd agree with this, the solo Rowe I've heard; Harsh, The Room; have a continuity to them that makes too much sense for my tastes. This has to do with my expectations for eai, though.. where I think it's most different from other music: the phrasing, construction, composition.. however you want to put it. He's certainly an inspiration as far as accepting new challenges from other players while continuing to challenge himself well into a time in life where it's typical to become conservative and set in approach... but... as with other players, what he does works best when he has a contrast, a foil.

At the risk of generalizing too much, the Tokyo crew has been a great foil and Keith plays off them and vv to fantastic effect. It's the combo of a more linear approach from Keith and a non-linear placement of sound from players like Otomo, Sachiko M, Nakamura (for reference: Good Morning, Good Night) that really works for me.

That Keith has been said to listen to lots of classical music makes sense when I think of his solo playing. There's something about the sequential choices that I can hear a more "classical" (for lack of a better way to put it!) approach to construction.

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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by mudd »

there is definitely something narrative about a keith rowe solo performance. this is something that i've struggled with in a wide range of solo eai performance, something that i was very resistant to until fairly recently. it goes back to the improvisation vs. composition debate, at least internally, but i think in the end it isn't the factor which determines if a performance is interesting or not.

i think keith's solo performance in tokyo this september did not attempt to break down the narrative, but rather opened up the thought process to the audience. i'm interested in how that works on cd, to see if i can defend or flesh out that impression.

m

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Kyrre Laastad
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by Kyrre Laastad »

mudd wrote:there is definitely something narrative about a keith rowe solo performance.
Yes, definitely! I think that this is Keith Rowe's strength in many ways, the way he often uses very musical gestures, but in a extremely drawn out and deliberate sense. I mean, those crescendo/decrescendos in Duos for Doris are just wonderfully musical.

It's taken a lot of time listening to him and thinking about him before I noticed just how musical his playing is. I think that his playing is very much about phrases and about gestures that are, in a way, linear. The way he talks about classical music, and especially about how John Tilbury really knows the weight of a note, etc., is reflected in the way Keith Rowe plays. Also, he has an impeccable sense of timing (for instance the radio grab work around the nine minute mark of Erstlive001).

And yeah, this is probably why he is so interesting next to the japanese improvisors.

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jon abbey
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Re: Keith Rowe

Post by jon abbey »

a previously linked to interview, but it'll be good to collect all of these in one place:

http://ronsen.org/monkminkpinkpunk/12/rowe.html



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