Billy Curmano's New X Art Ensemble
NEW X: XMAS
When you've finally had enough commercial Christmas fare - nobody - but nobody - deconstructs Christmas like New X. Arguments, and nearly a fist fight, broke out in the isolated farm house that serves as the world headquarters for the New X Art Ensemble at just the thought of a Christmas recording. That was until it was plain to hear it wouldn't be just another Christmas cash cow - or God forbid - a "sell out" or even an Elvis Christmas. It would take a decidedly different twist and be recorded right there in the living room on a boombox and good old Fostex four track. The boys liked it so much they decided to re-release it on compact disc with all its low tech, anti-commercial charm. Their engineer was aghast, at first thinking, filter this; filter that, until he got it and realized he had too preserve the spirit of deconstruction and retain that funky, down home farm house quality.
Here's what Mike Starling had to say about the 1993 cassette only release of "New X: Xmas" in the indie rag, "LAX":
"Xmas is the follow-up to last year's cassette, 'Culture Run Amok', and features the same blend of low-tech spoken word/avant garde jazz pieces and odd instrumental versions of well known classics (in this case, songs like 'Silent Night' and 'Little Drummer Boy' which with New X becomes 'Little Drummer/Insane Drummer Boy').
"A word of caution: If Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" or Andy Williams singing about chestnuts and open fires is your cup of Christmas carol tea, avoid this tape! However, if musicmakers like Ornette Coleman and the Art Ensemble of Chicago appeal to you, this may be just the weirded-out take on holiday music you're looking for."
They've added some graphics, but retained the smart black & white cover from the original cassette recording along with the disclaimer:
WARNING! BOOMBOX RECORDING! CD SISSIES NEED NOT BUY!
But don't be alarmed, unless you're a techno sound purist, "Xmas" is sure to charm.
New X is an evolving free-jazz collective founded by Curmano, Hunt and Smith. It expands and contracts easily and currently boasts a horn section "The Amazing Tess Toster Tones". For this 1993 recording, New X was: Billy X. Curmano: Drums and Vibraphone; Shawn Dalton: Bass and Conga; James B. Quick Degnan: Trumpet and Horns; D.L. Hunt: French Horn and Steve Smith: Reeds. There were vocals and incidental percussion contributed from most everyone and exciting backing vocals on Comfort & Joy by RANDOM HARMONY.
Includes the Christmas favorites: "Li'l Drummer/Insane Drummer Boy", "Endless Xmas Medleys" I, II and III and "Thgin Tnelis".