Billy X. Curmano John Pendergast Doozy
Doozy's a doozy of a follow-up CD to Billy and John's 1999 release, "Amanita", and continues that spirit of musical experimentation........ reflection...... and introspection ...with an edge. It's kind of a continuing saga of exploration as the award winning artist and musical primitive collaborates with the studied musician and seasoned player to push each other's limits.
Billy X. Curmano has toured internationally as a soloist and won numerous awards for his intermedia style including the McKnight Foundation Fellowship and the Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media. He's never been good at - or especially interested in - converting ink splotches, notes and staff's on paper into music. Fortunately, he met John Cage while he was still searching for his voice. The meeting helped him recognize there was a place beyond melody, harmony, rhythm and what-have-you that was purely and simply sound. Besides solo work, he fronts the New X Art Ensemble featuring the Amazing Tess Toster Tones with vocals and an odd assortment of instruments. Please see:
John Pendergast has been a musician and player most of his life. He began his guitar lessons as an eleven year old with the television band leader, Joe Shott of the Hot Shots. He went on to study violin and voice; turning pro early and adding arranger to his credits. He's played with Bo Diddley, Vasar Clements and the Manhattan Transfer. He's paid his dues on the road touring with a succession of bands including the Juggernaut Jug Band. His rockabilly and jug band roots translated into the stage personas of Mr. Hollywood, Colonel Fingers, Johnny Burnout and Johnny Memphis. He's played clubs from the Bottom Line and Lone Star in New York City to the nondescript dives and road houses across America.
Billy was working in New York City when he rang John up.... but there was a big blow brewing. The East Coast Blizzard of '03. A storm the New York Post called "The Big Doozy". They weathered it in a New Haven, CT basement studio with some fine brandy, an ocean harp, violin and Goya guitar. As fate would have it, their music became the eye of another Doozy. No studio tricks or overdubbing, just music under the storm. The session was more about friendship than making a disc, but when a musically conservative listener told them it was the most horrible thing she'd ever heard - they knew they were on to something.
For the uninitiated, the ocean harp is a peculiar Vietnamese instrument. It consists of a brass container with a series of metal tines. It is filled with water and played with a bow or mallot. As the player moves the container the water oscillates the sounds creating an accoustic almost electronic quality. A teen-age percussionist and friend of Billy's found the ocean harp in a catalog and thought, "Billy should play this." He told his saxophone player dad who thought he was right......and he was.
There's an interesting tale in how these two joined forces, but you can find that at another page on this same site dedicated to their first CD, "Amanita". Please see:
Suffice it to say, their merging was as natural as a smile. They toured and recorded together with Michael Klitgaard as the trio, Fly Agaric. The three have gone their separate ways, but John and Billy keep crossing that thousand mile interval between Connecticut and Minnesota to play their sweet, but never saccharine, sound. This time, they braved a blizzard and dug their way in and back out of the studio to record these four tracks - just so they could share them with you.
All tracks: Billy X. Curmano: ocean harp and vocals; John Pendergast: violin and Goya guitar