Jim McAuley | Gongfarmer 36 | Long Song Records

Jim McAuley – classical guitar = emory board, steel-string guitar, &é-string + tuning fork, 12-string + slide, prepared parlor guitar.

Mastered by Maurizio Giannotti at Newmastering Studio, Milano, Italy. Executive Producer: Fabrizio Perissinotto. Producer: Scott Fraser. Album Art + Design: Kio Griffith / 9rpm.com | Photo: Steve Elkins (Jim McAuley portraits + Kio Griffith (landscape, strings and silhouettes)

Tracklist: 1. Second Blooming [5:15] 2. Blues for John Carter [6:57] 3. Another November Night [4:55] 4. What part of maybe (don’t you understand?) [2:17] 5. Una Lunga Canzone [8:16] 6. Joy Buzzer [2:12] 7. The Eyelids of Buddha [10:58] 8. Plect’s Bounce [4:31] 9. Saltarello / Jumpstart [6:27] 10. nika’s Waltz [6:18]

Tracks 1 & 7 recorded by Scott Fraser at Architecture, Los Angeles, CA. Tracks 2 & 8 recorded by Tarey Potter live at Boise Experimental Music Festival, Boise, ID. Tracks 3, 4 & 6 recorded by Sean Foye, Los Angeles, CA. Tracks 9 & 10 recorded by Jim McAuley live at Dangerous Curve, Los Angeles, CA.Track 5 recorded by Jim McAuley (home practice DAT), Los Angeles, CA.

All compositions [except “Saltarello”] by Jim McAuley. (c)2012 Gongfarmer Music, Los Angeles.

jim mcauley | gongfarmer 36 | long song records

These ten tracks were compiled

from live performances, home practice tapes, alternate takes from my previous solo album and more recent studio recordings. With the exception of “Saltarello” (a Reneissance dance tune by Vincenzo Galilei), all the music is improvised. Some are totally spontaneous (like “Una Lunga Canzone”), others are loosely structured around invented tunings and short melodic ideas (like “nika’s Waltz”). No editing, overdubbing, or electronic enhancements were employed — just acoustic guitars plus some accessories (slides, picks, capos, tuning forks etc.) used as implements or for “preparations”.

This project was a joyful experience for me due to the involvement of some truly remarkable and creative friends: Scott, Kio, David, Steve, and of course the ever-enthusiastic end endlessly patient Fabrizio. This album would never have happened without their generous contributions. Special thanks as well to nika, Mary McQueen and Nels Cline whose loving support continue to inspire and sustain my musical life. — Jim McAuley, Los Angeles, California, 3/10/12

jim mcauley | gongfarmer 36 | long song records

Jim McAuley is one of a lineage of improvising guitarists

redefining the instrument like Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, Joe Morris, and avant-folk pickers like John Fahey and Robbie Basho and J.P. Pickens.  He brings a deeply personal and lyrical presence to his work and a unique signature sound, stirring in its intensity and generosity. This collection is a remarkable testimony to McAuley’s wide range of improvisatory expression and constantly unfolding creativity. Second Blooming~ It happens. That which infolds, unfolds. Sweet melancholycycle of being and unbeing. Awakening. The flower could be a lotus or a rose. What I watch is once and never again. Blues for John Carter ~ subtle elegy to fallen comrade John Carter, great jazz multi reed player (especially noted for his innovative work on clarinet), part of the ’60s LA jazz renaissance along with Bobby Bradford, Horace Tapscott and others. His music, basic and resilient, expressed defiance, acceptance, resistance, and hope. Another November Night ~ Undertow of intense storm tension and release. It describes itself. It stutters and sings energy. It opens heart’s sky to the dark clouds. What Part of Maybe (Don’t You Understand?) ~ May be, or not. Is you? Is you am or is you ain’t? Who’s there? Ask questions usually when you’ve got an answer. Then again. Una Lunga Canzone ~ A light is reached / & turns dark / silting the broken heart / & duende her throat / to wail light’s loss. Joy Buzzer ~ Haiku fast. Catch it if you can. Eyelids of Buddha ~ Bodhi Tree topping blues. Eyes open in realization, or closed in inward trance. Moth to light. Sparking root system spinal column: contemplating impermaneney. In moment to moment creation awakens. Plect’s Bounce ~ It’s always “live”, alive in its journey through the air to ear, to heart. When it’s done, air shimmers. Moving to core to connect, reflect the quest. Witness through sound the opening of the ongoing. All of it: the calm, the turbulence, the ebullient triumph of completion. And then begin again. Begin forever. No end in sight. Saltarello / Jumpstart ~ Joyous classical guitar rockets out of and into the delicate tangle of medieval dance hoedowns. nika’s Waltz ~ Sublimely tender heart reaches out through veils of loss to rediscover what remains and endures. It yearns through suffering to soar and sing it into the beloved’s ear. — David Meltzer, Oakland, California 1/1/12

jim mcauley | gongfarmer 36 | long song records

“Genuinely evocative and refreshingly cliche-bashing work” — Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times

“Mr. McAuley’s precise writing and playing is full of blues figures and rich-toned, acoustic-fold resonance. It’s peaceful and rigorous music” — Ben Radcliff, New York Times

“Jim has the magic!”  — Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

“He’s capable of putting your heart in full-resonance mode” — Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

jim mcauley | gongfarmer 36 | long song records

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One thought on “Jim McAuley | Gongfarmer 36 | Long Song Records

  1. As its title suggests, Gongfarmer 36 is the belated follow-up to guitarist Jim McAuley’s Gongfarmer 18 (Nine Winds Records, 2005). But the seven-year delay is not surprising, as additions to McAuley’s discography tend to arrive sporadically—the last being Vignes (Long Song, 2009), with the wonderful Acoustic Guitar Trio which brought him together with Nels Cline and the late Rod Poole. As well as two solo and two trio albums, The Ultimate Frog (Drip Audio, 2008) features a quintet worthy of note.

    Gongfarmer 36 contains ten relatively short tracks, ranging in length from just over two minutes to just over eleven. They come from a variety of sources—live performances, studio recordings, including alternate takes from that first solo album, and a home practice DAT—making this a fine showcase of McAuley’s solo work. The music is just as varied as its sources; as on Gongfarmer 18, McAuley employs a range of guitars and implements to give a master class in improvised acoustic guitar music.

    The only composition is Vincenzo Galilei’s beguiling Renaissance dance tune “Salterro,” which highlights the guitarist’s exquisite technique; at times it is possible to believe it is a duo but, in his sleeve note, McAuley points out that no editing, overdubs or electronic enhancements were employed. On the other improvised tracks, it is not always immediately obvious that McAuley is improvising; many passages flow so freely, and with such impeccable logic, that they could easily be composed.

    Being entirely acoustic, McAuley’s playing owes as much to folk music and the blues as to jazz and improv; fleetingly, he is just as often reminiscent of John Fahey or Davy Graham as he is Derek Bailey. But, while an occasional phrase may hint at such roots, overall his music is a rich tapestry in which the different strands become interwoven and indistinguishable. So, “Blues for John Carter” (titled for the great composer and clarinetist, with whom McAuley had lessons) belies its title by flirting with a blues scale before becoming a wide-ranging improvisation which only includes the occasional hint of a blues phrase.

    “Another November Night” features twelve-string and tuning fork, imaginatively combined to create an appealing metallic timbre that is used in noise passages which diverge from the strict tempo playing that typifies the rest of the album. Four tracks feature nylon-strung classical guitar, the most notable being the eight-minute home practice recording “Una Lunga Canzone,” which gives an intimate and siply gorgeous glimpse of McAuley at home, playing spontaneously for himself.

    Incidentally, a gong farmer’s job in Tudor England was to collect human excrement from places like cess pits and castle moats at night, and transport it away from human habitation. All of which makes McAuley’s choice of titles for his solo releases seem even more bizarre; there are definitely plenty of jewels here—but no excreta. This is a consistently beautiful album without an average or weak track. Roll on Gongfarmer 54!

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