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Re: mutantrumpetlooping etc
Thanks David! I'd read that interview somewhere a while ago, but was never
able to find it again!
Perhaps it's fitting, seeing as how this thread evolved out of the Fripp v.
Torn one, but it seems a few of the comments re mutantrumpetlooping have
visited that same neighborhood of hierarchy and competetive rank that have
led us to dress two grown guitarists, quite against their wishes, in
chicken suits for a musical cockfight. I'm thinking mostly of the posting a
couple of days ago that spoke of Jon Hassell's ability to shape and control
his sound with advanced technique and lip control while dismissing Ben
Neill's playing as done with a bunch of effects.
Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love Hassell's playing. His work in the
early 80's forced me to reconsider my opinion of the trumpet, and led me
indirectly to appreciate Miles Davis. Hassell's incorporation of classical
Indian vocal technique into his playing was brilliant, and he has continued
to be an innovator. But Hassell and Neill do very different things, and to
compare them as trumpeters/loopers/musicians is really a matter of apples
What appeals to me about Neill's playing is his ability to simultaneously
control several instrumental voices in real time, many of which don't even
sound remotely trumpetlike. (Live, I was probably most impressed with the
looping bass tones that were rumbling out of his rig...) We've covered this
ground before in guitar synth threads and discussions of "effects as a
crutch"; when playing an amplified instrument through "effects" and looping
devices, how much, if not all, of the circuitry can be considered part of
the instrument? While Hassell is without question a master of a
conventional instrument, albeit with very unconventional and original
technique, Neill uses a trumpet (highly modified at that) as an element of
a larger system. It's his controller of choice, but I consider him more of
a synthesist than a trumpeter, and view the way he uses the total system as
an instrument to be a more personal and unique statement of musicianship
than if he were handed a regular trumpet and asked to "compete" in terms of
conventional repertoire and chops.
If we had to rank, for example, Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis, Jon Hassell
and Ben Neill strictly in terms of technical ability (and I'm glad we
don't), Marsalis would probably "win" hands down, at least by conventional
standards. But of these four players, I enjoy his music the least, mostly
because what I enjoy about the other three is their individuality and the
uniquely creative approaches they bring to the instrument they share.
ps: if anyone wants to hear Neill for themselves, I agree with David that
Triptycal is probably his best work.
At 11:36 AM 2/28/00 +0000, you wrote:
>There was a on page interview with Ben Neill in WIRED, 5.04 - Apr 1997
>which is still online at: