Perambulating the Bounds

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Carol Genetti In Nashville This Tuesday

Carol is a friend of mine from Chicago and one of the leading vocal improvisers in the country. She’s touring in a trio with saxophonist Jack Wright and percussionist Jon Mueller, and they are playing at the Secret Show space at 310 Chestnut St. this Tuesday. And Springgarden Music has a bunch of clips of Carol’s music, including the trio with Mueller and Wright

She does wordless improvisation that goes after the voice as a generator of a wide range of sounds, like free improv instrumentalists. You can hear some specific sources for her techniques, like Tuvan throat singing or Bulgarian vocalisms, and Carol has been studying Indian singing for a few years at least. There’s also the influence of vernacular vocalisms like rural “hollering” and contemporary classical vocal performers like Jaap Blonk or Joan LaBarbera. And Carol has a great sense of humor – she’s not afraid of the fact that silliness is one aspect of the sounds, which is true for any improvised music. It’s an aesthetic Steve Lacy would have understood, who realized sometimes a soprano saxophone sounds like a duck.

Carol came to this out of a performance studies background at the School of the Art Institute. The earliest piece of hers I knew about (and played on) was a puppet performance that had real breadth in its content. The piece has stuck with me, and over the years I’ve had a growing sense of how much was going on in it. Most of her performances now are more purely sound-oriented, but I think the art school training is there somewhere, probably in some sense of sculpting and shaping sound, and not seeing it so much in linear and mathematical terms.

To give an idea of what she does, here’s a rundown of her recordings – these are the ones I have. She’s also done one for Statisfield (their website has a blurb on Carol: ) and been on a couple of compilations or various artists things.

Animus: duets with Eric Leonardson, who plays invented instrument that have their roots in percussion but with more tonal qualities. The rhythmic drive of his playing was an excellent foil for Carol’s inventiveness, and at the time they were playing together a lot and you can hear that familiarity in the level of coordination between their sounds and actions.

In the Garden of Earthly Delights, duets with cellist Bob Marsh. It seems like Carol often does well to be paired with a bass or cello – they have the range to mix up with her voice, but can also occupy a different timbral area.

The Shattering, various groupings from the year Carol appeared at Baltimore’s High Zero festival. These performances involve more momentary encounters and more sound mass, keeping everything in a higher energy mode. It also includes a number of cuts with Jack.

Sense of Hearing: mostly duets with bassist Damon Smith, some also including cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. Smith is a really strong, inventive bass player from the Bay area, and like the recording with Marsh the combination of voice and low strings is a good place to start. It’s also really well-recorded, or at least it comes off well on the iPod.

Here’s an interview Woody Sullender did with Carol:


  • heres to carol
    from the old gang at nnwac
    the flat iron gallery
    may she never look back
    but in case she does
    she'll see some of them
    are still there, for her
    to be sure
    love to her from
    all of us

    By Blogger Agit Spam, at 3:37 PM  

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