MLA

MLA

 El Mirage, Arizona, USA
BandJazzAvant-garde

A mutual vision producing a comprehensive forceful & unique language of improvisational rhythmic & compositional techniques, an extraordinary sense of inventive development, a series of melodic harmonic & rhythmic vocabularies moulded into unique soundscapes radiating creative fire & energy.

Biography

Joe Gallivan (Moog synthesizers and percussion)
P. Y. Caplin (six string electric cello)

It is difficult to find anything in print about percussionist and synthesizer pioneer Joe Gallivan that does not describe him as less celebrated than he ought to be. Many profiles point out – with just a hint of self-justifying reproach - that by removing himself to Hawaii for most of the 1990s he somehow denied himself recognition on the contemporary scene. Gallivan tends to be observed in glimpses, testing Robert Moog’s new electronic drum, taking part with Larry Young in the rapturous post-Lifetime jazz-rock of Love Cry Want, or splintering rock, electro-acoustic music, and jazz to indistinguishable fragments on Electronic Percussion/Electric Stereo Guitar with the no less ‘neglected’ and ‘under-appreciated’ Gary Smith. There is even a tendency to describe Gallivan’s in ‘almost’ or ‘might have been’ terms, putting undue emphasis on the fact that he was once asked to replace Robert Wyatt in Soft Machine. Frank Sinatra almost played the lead in Dirty Harry. Harrison Ford and Gene Hackman almost played Hannibal Lector . . . Gallivan’s career has been no less full and varied for having taken place off the editorial pages. Among musicians, his reputation is secure. Audiences instinctively recognise his passionate authority, even if they don’t have a ready label for where he fits into the current hierarchies.

The same is true, and almost transcendently so, for Pazel Yakov Caplin, whose recent work has taken the idea of a synaesthetic unity between the aural and visual to new lengths, and who has then even more boldly attached that rare but not unheard of quality to the ‘acousmatique’ ideal of separating the aural experience of music from any external clue as to its production. At its simplest, this can involve unorthodox articulation on a regular instrument behind a curtain or screen, or an amplified realisation at some distance from the point of creation, or in Caplin’s case a bold use of the radically democratised internet to make available a series of works, or actions, or bids on the transcendent which come to us without text, CV or listening aids.

If Caplin’s name is initially unfamiliar, he may be better known as the bassist/cellist Tony Moore, a visionary solo performer on Matchless Recordings and a uncategorisable collaborator with Catalan artist Josep Vallribera, metal sculptor Steve Hubback and others. There is no greater handicap to realistic reputation than childhood virtuosity – ask Herbie Hancock, who now more or less dismisses questions about his youthful precocity as a classical performer – but Caplin comes from that awkward place. As a classical performer, he attended the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall, studying cello and clarinet, but declined to follow the orthodox classical route and worked professionally as a bassist and cellist for many years, playing commercial music, jazz and improvisation. Much as Gallivan has often been reduced to a list of celebrity associations – Donald Byrd! Eric Dolphy, Gil Evans!! – so Caplin has sometimes been cast as a bit-player on the contemporary improvising scene, cropping up alongside more critically resonant names, like Keith Tippett’s, Evan Parker’s, Rutherford’s . . . This is another part of the game that critical rhetoric plays, a vast nervous group hug that assigns importance according to who you’ve known rather than what you’ve done.

Gallivan’s contact book and credits are equally impressive, though his studentship with electronic composer Vladimir Ussachevsky, to whom he turned after a rapturous first experience of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s music, may perhaps impress the classical critics more than the jazz/improve/rock claque. The unifying characteristic of these men, and perhaps the reason why they make such compelling and indivisible music is that both Gallivan and Caplin seem entirely self-dependent. Neither belongs to an identifiable ‘school’ or movement. Gallivan’s drumming can recall anyone from Zutty Singleton and Dave Tough to Carl Palmer or Robert Wyatt, which is to say that it resembles no one but himself. Caplin’s cello playing sometimes has the low urgent throb of Wilbur Ware or Charles Mingus, but it is so identifiably string instruments he plays, and with such an instinct for their higher overtones that one also immediately thinks of Tortelier or Rostropovich. Since both men began to embrace electronic processes, the usual limits of instrumentality were breached and even these notionally flattering but largely meaningless associations were left far behind.

I would like to be able to say that what further unites them is a common root in jazz improvisation, that sense of music as a sequence of actions taken in the moment and driven by the tension between individual and ensemble values. It makes absolutely no sense to speak of their music as a dialogue, still less as a conversation. As any civilised person knows, and

Discography

London.Amsterdam.
Joe Gallivan – Moog synthesizers & percussion
P. Y. Caplin (aka Tony Moore) – double bass & acoustic cello
Indigo With Stars Inc.