NEW X: FRESH X Warning: Contains free jazz and one naughty word.
Fresh X: High mass, high jinx or simply the New X Art Ensemble featuring the Amazing Tess Toster Tones live at Rascal's cathedral of rock n'roll in downtown Winona, MN. The club's high priest of sound, Ken Erickson, captured the unique mix of free jazz, spoken word and socially relevant material for their third compact disc.
From the light hearted mating call of the lonely Minnesotan looking for love to snippets of conversation stolen on New York City streets and subways, Fresh X plays out like living theatre with a zappaesque pit orchestra. A cardboard and polystyrene village in Tompkins Square Park at the beginning of the Homeless March on Washington D.C. inspired an anthem for Street People everywhere. It's followed by yet another version of the bands old favorite - the speedy and always reliable - German Train. A more somber tone engulfs the two songs about war separated by an angry look at the New America, drug testing and surveillance. The final duet is a fairly familiar refrain in the not-so-commercial alternative music scene played out with a guitar and saxophone..... Playing for Peanuts in Winona. (Years ago on a road trip to Minnesota, Billy X. sat in on a friend's coffee house gig; just for fun. He wasn't booked and wasn't expecting pay, but the young women running the show must have wanted to be supportive or Minnesota friendly...they kept passing him peanuts between sets.)
The X in New X stands for - among other things - eXperimental. When Kenny invited the band to Rascals, he didn't know who would show or what manner of music makers they would bring. Of course, He knew they were free musicians. He had requested a good sampling of Billy's spoken word material and the band revolved all around, over and under it. Child's play for the New X, a free music collective, that meets weekly in an isolated farm house where anything goes. The sessions have created a kind of telepathy between players. New X was founded by Billy X. Curmano, an amazing performance artist; D.L. Hunt an amazing classical musician and Steve Smith and amazing jazz man.
Smith and Hunt had often backed Billy's odd performances until one day they realized they had became a trio, the epiphany of New X. This was easily 30 years ago. They performed and often brought their free style to conservative spaces, new frontiers and unsuspecting audiences. Their departure from the standard club fair made them the area's "most bothersome band" and ...hearing this... other musicians always seemed to want to butt in, to stretch beyond the commercially acceptable venues they were usually confined to.
Among them, James B. Quick Degnan was the first to take up permanent residence. He's a gifted horn player that has played with every type of band imaginable and some that are not. From the start, Kevin Brady has easily stepped in and out of the band at will. He's a multi-instrumentalist best known in the area for his solid bass playing in popular acts. Kelly Coyle, who fronts the End Time Quartet, has been the bands prefered guitarist. Andrew Foss, who records intermittenly with the Gnarley Hinterlanders, has taken on regular bass duties for New X. Pete Hansen has spent time with a wide array of popular bands with vocals, saxes and clarinets, but he shines with New X on flute. Now, the Smith family has lived New X. Pappa Smith is a founder of the group and one quarter of the End Time Quartet. He provides saxophones and dijjeridu. His sons, Ian and Peter, broke into the band and battled on trap drums for the night.
Billy X. has toured internationally - from the Dalai Lama's World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles and New York City's famed Franklin Furnace to Austria's Vienna Secession. His eccentric brand of performance art was highlighted with a three day live burial, 2,000 plus mile Mississippi River swim and forty day Death Valley desert fast. He's used these life altering experiences to develop a unique style. (Ie: His harmonica probably developed a soul of its own as he swam between cotton fields in the Mississippi Delta.) His band mates have been drawn together by a passion for experimentation, art and social justice. They're as likely to show up on a corner to back Billy in his latest street performance, join him in Death Valley or on the Mississippi - as they are to perform together in clubs and major venues. Reviewers have compared previous New X releases to Lionel Hampton, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
On April 24, 2002 New X was: Kevin Brady on bongos; Kelly Coyle, guitar; Billy X. Curmano, lead vocals/lyrics and guitar on Playin' for Peanuts; James B. Quick Degnan, bass trumpet and fluglehorn; Andrew Foss, bass guitar; Pete Hansen, flute; D.L. Hunt, French horn, Fender Rhodes and bass guitar; Ian Smith and Pete Smith, trap drums and Steve Smith, tenor saxophone. Incidental percussion and backing vocals by most everyone. Mixing and Recording Engineer: K.C. Erickson - firstname.lastname@example.org An XART Audio Jump Frog Production.