signal to noise
Published from 1997 to 2013
For a number of years this was the website for signal to noise a paper-and-ink journal of improvised & experimental music, concentrating on the overlapping worlds of avant-garde jazz, electro-acoustic improvisation and modern rock. It was published from 1997 to 2013. During that time the magazine also had another site: www.signaltonoisemagazine.org.
The new owners of www.signaltonoisemagazine.com have chosen to used content from the sites' archived pages as a means of keeping a truncated version of what this magazine offered its readership. Some actual issues of the magazine are available on ebay, if you are interested.
Content is from the sites' 200-2013 archived pages.
Enjoy the nostalgic trip back....
issue 36 :: winter 2000
Contents - Issue #17, May/June 2000
DJ Logic turns the tables and mixes jazz and jam, hip-hop and electronica. Story by Greg Corrao. Photos by Mike McNamara.
German pianist Georg Graewe swims against prevailing currents and wins the support of stateside listeners. Story by Jon C. Morgan. Photos by Bruce Carnevale.
Yusef Lateef has charted a singular route through 20th century music, from big band and bop to funk, fusion, symphonic orchestration and his own łautophysiopsychic music.˛ Story by Pete Gershon with Adam Rudolph. Photos by Thomas Prutisto.
#13, Oct '99
#14, Nov '99
Marshall Allen/Sun Ra
The House That RA Built
by Larry Alexander, photos by Karl Billerts
"Happy Space Age," came the greeting from the other end of the line, in a voice which sounded like that of alto saxophonist Noel Scott. What else should you have expected when placing a call "long distance in more ways than one" to the fantastically whimsical otherworld of the Sun Ra Arkestra?
Six years after the departure of their namesake and leader, the Arkestra carries forth under the direction of alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, who has steered its forward evolution in the context of his own compositional prolificacy.
In the annals of music, there are few locations as steeped in legend for housing creativity (as opposed to mere fame and debauchery) as the three-story Morton Street residence of the Sun Ra Arkestra. Never mind Graceland; you are now entering Space Land.
Such a pilgrimage brings to mind the essence of Sun Ra's speculative vision - Ra, ruminating poetically on the if and when of things: If you live in fables; When angels speak; When the world was in darkness; If you find earth boring. His remains an aesthetic of infinite possibility, underscoring the true role of art: to ask the questions which bear the seeds of human potentiality.
Step inside the Green Door and you behold a monument to wondrous out-trospection which begins to unfold in the large living room to the left;
It's a traditional Philadelphia row-house, if you've ever seen one: tall and thin, reflective of the city's almost singular colonial physical make-up. It's contents imbue the ascendancy up it's sculpted staircase with a regal bearing, as if one is traversing levels of awareness, or at least divine mystery. Graduate to the second floor and you see bedroom doors of various colors nestled among dazzlingly adorned hallway walls; the one in the rear leads to the room which once housed the late tenor saxophonist, John Gilmore, who immediately succeeded Sun Ra as leader in 1993. Transcend to the third floor and there, in the rear bedroom, you find the current baton-bearer in the Arkestra's existential relay race, Marshall Allen; there is something fittingly poetic about the fact that he sits astride one of Sonny's keyboards, banging out chord progressions to demonstrate the melody of one of his new compositions to tenor saxophonist Ya Ya Abdul-Majid.
Looking at Marshall - who radiates warmth and charm, while embracing each day's challenge with an exuberance unmatched by people half his age -you almost have to wonder: is there some unwritten cosmic bylaw that in the Creator's band, the leader is the one with the orange beard?
The walls of the room are adorned with paintings of Sun Ra, one of them a striking juxtaposition of black and white and color renderings. There are various plaques and awards on display as well, offering a subtle timeline of Arkestral achievements. Jacsonís workbench, from which he used to create jewelry and other handcrafts, sits off to the side, and one wall is festooned with books, many of them extremely rare and covering an eclectic range of philosophical and aesthetic topics.
Assorted instruments, including exotic percussion pieces, rest about the room, and there is a box of old vinyl that ranges in content from Fletcher Henderson albums to an original copy of the 1971 Arkestra release Nidhamu to a slew of unsheathed plain white label Saturn albums whose collective anonymity only serves to fire the imagination and quicken the pulse.
Ya Ya departs with his horn and his space is filled by Scott and trombonist Tyrone Hill. As you settle in for a fireside chat about the goings-on of the Arkestra, it is difficult not to notice the simple white cardboard Delta Airlines packing box which sits behind Marshall, forming a make-shift utility table to hold his coffee and cigarettes (which he would jokingly describe as his "diet"). So rampant is the spirit of creativity here that he has taken to drawing in and around the series of coffee stains left by the many cups that have rested there in the days since he brought the box home from a recent road trip, his pencilled doodlings suggesting some aberrant strain of Andromedal cartography.
What is most engaging about these men is the pure spirit of discipline and dedication which radiates from them. At one point, there is talk of
Just before you depart, you are granted the honor of seeing Jacson's huge, legendary hand-carved drum, which he forged from the remains of a huge tree felled by lightning just across the street many years ago. Standing easily over five feet in height, its majestic placement adjacent to the shrine which features his hat evokes a powerful feeling of Jac's ebullient presence. Standing in this Morton Street structure, one realizes that at some point it must be formally registered as an historical landmark; but even that eventuality can represent little more than a belated bureaucratic technicality. Can natural beauty be subject to human sanction? And just who in the omniverse do we think we are to presume such authority in the first place? Time and activity, after all, have already bestowed landmark status on this house. (Although such notions of sanction reiterate legitimate questions of Sun Ra's place in jazz history vis-a-vis those of more celebrated luminaries such as Duke Ellington - particularly when their songbooks are compared along lines of stylistic range, quantity and complexity.)
In the end, though, it's just a house - and yet it's not. And this is most likely the point of the matter; any house, be it ever so humble, holds the same potential for such a creative approach to living. One has but to tap into it with the spirit of joy. It's a conclusion potent enough to send one home eager to reconsider, with fresh eyes, the if and when of things.
Read Larry Alexander & Thomas Stanley's interview with Marshall Allen, Noel Scott and Tyrone Hill in its entirety in the new SIGNAL to NOISE.
CD Reviews... 11/99
#15, Dec '99
NEWS, VIEWS & ERRATA: Boston's Zeitgeist Gallery; sound bites in brief
SOUND OFF: Don Byron: the thinking man's Wynton? by Harvey Pekar
#16, Mar/Apr 2000
issue 36 :: winter 2004
ABOUT SIGNAL to NOISE
Signal to Noise is the quarterly journal of improvised & experimental music, documenting the confluence of avant-garde jazz, electro-acoustics and experimental, modern rock.
SIGNAL to NOISE is distributed by Ingram Periodicals (where we're affectionately known as #99399), Tower Records, Desert Moon and Small Changes Distribution. We also sell the magazine directly to Newbury Comics (Boston, MA area), Other Music (NYC), Downtown Music Galley (NYC), Pure Pop Records (Burlington, VT), 33 Degrees (Austin, TX), Sound Exchange (Houston, TX), Bulldog Records (Seattle, WA), Jazz Record Mart (Chicago, IL), Dusty Groove America (Chicago, IL), Squidco (NYC), the Bop Shop (Rochester, NY) Amoeba Music (San Francisco, CA), and Sound 323 (London UK). If you'd like to carry us in your store, please contact one of our primary distributors, or if you¹d prefer to order direct from us (minimum order 10 copies / no returns), drop us a line.
WHO WE ARE:
EDITOR / PUBLISHER pete gershon
ART DIRECTION the hockey stick factory
WEB SUPPORT gnome
larry alexander :: bill barton :: james beaudreau :: jason bivins :: marcus boon :: john chacona :: eugene chadbourne :: byron coley :: jay collins :: ethan covey :: jon dale :: christopher delaurenti :: michael galinsky :: pete gershon :: david greenberger :: kurt gottschalk :: ed hazell :: mike heffley :: scott hreha :: walter horn :: jesse jarnow :: howard mandel :: francesco martinelli :: scott menhinick :: bill meyer :: jon c. morgan :: daniel piotrowski :: david reitzes :: michael rosenstein :: elise ryerson :: philip sherburne :: bill smith :: thomas stanley :: ben sterling :: martin turenne :: dan warburton :: alan waters :: ben watson :: david wild :: michael wilderman :: mike zimbouski
WHERE WE ARE:
Winooski VT 05404 USA
issue 37 :: spring 2005
THE JOURNAL OF IMPROVISED & EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC
SIGNAL to NOISE is a nationally distributed annual publication focusing on the confluence of avant-garde jazz, electro-acoustic improvisation and left-of-center modern rock, with an emphasis on independent production and promotion. Featuring a vibrant mix of seasoned music writers and new, previously unpublished voices, we have been nominated by UTNE Magazine for “Best Arts And Creativity Coverage” in their 2004 Independent Press Awards, as “Zine of the Year” at 2007’s Plug Independent Music Awards, and four years running as “Best Periodical Covering Jazz” by the Jazz Journalists Association. Each issue of STN mixes in-depth features on the most significant and cutting-edge creative musicians with original, exclusive photography and hundreds of reviews of the season’s key concerts, books, and recorded music in all formats from CD to DVD to LP to MP3.
NEWS FROM STN-HQ!
The summer 2011 issue of Signal to Noise will be our last as a quarterly publication. We'll take a brief hiatus before returning with our first annual edition in May of 2012, just ahead of the summer festival season. By consolidating our resources into a single blockbuster issue each year, we look forward to continuing our work for a long time to come. We're no longer offering subscriptions but we'll continue to sell inpidual issues here at the website and through our pre-existing network of chain and indy stores. Thank you for your support over these past 14 years!
"The most respected journal of experimental, improvised and otherwise interesting music." DustyGroove.com
"Essential reading and resource for any underground connoisseur." Forced Exposure
"STN is subversive!" Nat Hentoff
"Cutting edge ... it's the best!" Tom Waits
SIGNAL TO NOISE
THE JOURNAL OF IMPROVISED & EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC
issue #64 | fall 2012
SHAKING RAY LEVIS
story: chad radford photos: robert wright
GENERATOR SOUND ART GALLERY
story: adam krause
RECORD HUNTING IN JAKARTA
story: william gibson
JOZEF VAN WISSEM
FIMAV in Victoriaville by Mike Chamberlain
Suoni per il Popolo in Montreal by Lawrence Joseph
Contact! in New York City by Christian Carey
Opera Days in Ostrava, Czech Republic by Kurt Gottschalk
Robert Ashley in New York City by George Grella
reviews of over 150 of the season's key releases and reissues in CD / DVD / LP / download format
bill barton :: caroline bell :: jason bivins :: jennifer brown :: marcus boon :: colin buttimer :: pat buzby :: joel calahan :: christian carey :: john chacona :: mike chamberlain :: cindy chen :: andrew choate :: jay collins :: dennis cook :: larry cosentino :: david cotner :: ethan covey :: michael crumsho :: raymond cummings :: jonathan dale :: christopher delaurenti :: nate dorward :: lawrence english :: gerard futrick :: michael galinsky :: pete gershon :: david greenberger :: kurt gottschalk :: spencer grady :: kory grow :: jennifer hale :: carl hanni :: ed hazell :: nate hogan :: jesse jarnow :: mark keresman :: j. edward keyes :: howard mandel :: libby mclinn :: bill meyer :: sean molnar :: richard moule :: larry nai :: kyle oddson :: chris pacifico :: michael rosenstein :: elise ryerson :: ron schepper :: steve smith :: ion sokhos :: thomas stanley :: mark tucker :: nathan turk :: dan warburton :: alan waters ::
Signal to Noise is distributed by Ingram Periodicals, Source Interlink, Ubiquity Distribution and Small Changes. STN is available in many Borders and Barnes & Nobles outlets, and we sell directly to Other Music (NYC), Downtown Music Gallery (NYC), End of an Ear (Austin), Sound Exchange (Houston), Domy Books (Houston); Newbury Comics (Boston area), Bulldog Records (Seattle), Jackpot Records (Portand), Jazz Record Mart (Chicago), Dusty Groove (Chicago), Lunchbox Records (Charlotte NC), Horizon Records (Greenville SC), Squidco.com (NYC), Bop Shop (Rochester), Armageddon Shop (Providence), Aquarius Records (San Francisco), Amoeba Music (Hollywood / San Francisco) and Volcanic Tongue (Scotland). We encourage you to support your local, independently-owned retailers. If you’d like to carry us in your store, please contact one of our distributors, or if you’d prefer to order direct from us (min. order 5 copies / no returns), STN is available at a wholesale rate of $3.50 (5 - 20 copies), $3 (21 - 40), $2.50 (41 +). Write us for more info.
SUBMITTING REVIEW MATERIALS
You are welcome and encouraged to submit review materials to the address above. However, please understand that we’re sent so much music that we’re able to review only a tiny portion of what we receive. Inevitably, some important and interesting music will fail to be covered, but if you continue to keep in touch with us and let us know what you're doing, it’s probably only a matter of time before we’re able to help bring your music to the attention of our readers. Unfortunately due to the huge amount of material we receive, we are not always able to acknowledge receipt of inpidual packages or give feedback on a case by case basis. However, if you enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope, we will return any unused materials to you. Otherwise, we will offer them to the radio station at Rice University for potential airplay.