While drawing from a kaleidoscope of rock and jazz guitar techniques as well as from the chaotic structures of Charles Ives' symphonies and Frank Zappa's dadaistic pieces,
Eugene Chadbourne (1954)
was a free improviser whose roots were in rural white music.
However, exposure to Derek
Bailey's and Anthony Braxton's creative improvisation and a demented sense of
humor bestowed a tone of punk irreverence on
Solo Acoustic Guitar Volume One (november 1975),
including the cacophonous Music for Mr Anthony Braxton,
Solo Acoustic Guitar Volume Two (june 1976),
mostly for prepared stringed instruments and including Making It Go Away,
and especially the Collected Symphonies (1985) for guitar.
The Story Of A Good Little Dog Amber And Other Compositions (february 1977), a collaboration with bassist Billy McCarroll, was released only 25 years later.
A childish dadaism permeated a formidable orchestral piece created in june 1979 under the aegis of John Cage's aleatory music, The English Channel, credited to the 20000 Statues (featuring Lesli Dalaba and Toshinori Kondo on trumpets, Mark Kramer on organ, John Zorn on saxophone, Bob Ostertag on synthesizer, Steve Beresford on toy instruments, Fred Frith on guitar, Polly Bradfield on violin, LaDonna Smith on viola, Tom Cora on cello, Wayne Horvitz on piano, Andrea Centazzo on drums, Mark Miller on percussion, etc) that was reassembled in 1981 and mixed with all sorts of samples and sonic debris to obtain an abominable organism similar to Frank Zappa's satirical post-modernist collages.
Chadbourne, also a proficient banjoist, promoted an
unlikely marriage of country music, rockabilly, Fugs-style dadaistic musichall and creative improvisation on
Country Music from Southeastern Australia
(RRRecords, 1986), recorded in 1983,
David Moss on percussion and drum-machine, Jon Rose on violin and piano, and
Rik Rue on field recordings and noises.
Chadbourne's erratic career continued to alternate between
home-made lo-fi audio collages such as
Dinosaur On The way (1979), featuring Tom Cora, Toshinori Kondo and John Zorn, or Wombat on the Way (1985),
and mocking protest songs in the vein of Nashville's country music such as Chad-Born Again (1991).
The latter form peaked with the satirical country & western opera Jesse Helms Busted for Pornography (1996),
while his audio collage reached a new dimension with House by the Cemetery (premiered in 1998), off Horror Part One.
The aesthetic culmination of Chadbourne's insanity was probably the monumental project of Insect And Western (1996) for "symphony orchestra, gamelan and high-school jazz stage band", partially documented on Insect Attracter, Insect and Western Party and The Intellectual and Emotional World of the Cockroach. Parts of it were reorganized as Termite Damage (december 1997) and the series was later extended with Bed Bugs (2000).
His madcap chamber music included I Talked to Death in Stereo (november 1998) for electric guitar, strings, reeds, theremin and percussion, off I Talked to Death in Stereo.
His rare ventures into structure improvisation were best represented by The Post Day of the Dead Ritual (premiered in 1994) for ensemble.
Chadbourne was quite unique in the history of music for being at the same time an avantgarde composer in the classical tradition, a jazz improviser, a folk musician and a member of a rock band. Only Frank Zappa could compete with such eclecticism.
Unfortunately, like too many avantgarde musicians, Chadbourne never
produced a true masterpiece. His career was a long series of recordings that
documented a general idea of art, but few are worth saving for the sake of
its intrinsic value, and none stands out as a milestone of his age.
Simply put, many of his recordings are junk. But then maybe that was precisely
Born in North Carolina in 1954, Eugene Chadbourne, a graduate of the University of
Calgary (Alberta, Canada), announced his irreverent musical program on
Solo Acoustic Guitar (Parachute, 1975) and
Vol 2 Solo Acoustic Guitar (Parachute, 1976).
The former includes Marcella Bienvenue, Amber and
Music For Mr Anthony Braxton.
His art would remain mainly a kaleidoscope of guitar techniques that draws from
Charles Ives' symphonies and
Frank Zappa's dadaistic pieces.
Chadbourne would never surpass the brilliant chaos of these two albums.
While active in Canada in several improvising collectives, Chadbourne met
saxophonist Bruce Ackley in San Francisco.
In 1977 he relocated to New York, worked with
jazz musicians Leo Smith, Butch Morris, Frank Lowe, Lester Bowie, Carla Bley,
and released Vol 3 Guitar Trios (1977), which featured Henry Kaiser,
Owen Maercks, Duck Baker, Randy Hutton.
He toured with John Zorn, who had just released his first composition.
The following years saw Chadbourne explore music from the viewpoint of the duet:
Duo (Parachute, 1977) and
School (Parachute, 1978) with John Zorn,
Now Return Us to Normal (1979) with fellow guitarist Randy Hutton,
Improvised Music from Acoustic Piano and Guitar Music (Gallery Editions, 1977) with pianist Casey Sokol,
Possibilities of the Color Plastic (Parachute, 1979) with Toshinori Kondo,
Don't Punk Out (Parachute, 1979) with Frank Lowe.
His activity increased dramatically in the following years, playing with just
about every member of the avant-jazz scene both in New York
(Wayne Horvitz, John Oswald, LaDonna Smith, Derek Bailey) and in Europe
(Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, Steve Beresford, David Toop, Fred Frith).
He also wrote a formidable piece for orchestra under the aegis of
John Cage's aleatory music,
The English Channel (june 1979 - Parachute, 1979), credited to the 20000 Statues (featuring Lesli Dalaba and Toshinori Kondo on trumpets, Mark Kramer on organ, John Zorn on saxophone, Bob Ostertag on synthesizer, Steve Beresford on toy instruments, Fred Frith on guitar, Polly Bradfield on violin, LaDonna Smith on viola, Tom Cora on cello, Wayne Horvitz on piano, Andrea Centazzo on drums,
Mark Miller on percussion, etc) that was reassembled in 1981 and mixed with all sorts of samples and sonic debris to obtain an abominable organism similar to
Frank Zappa's satirical post-modernist collages.
In 1980 Chadbourne had the idea to blend avantgarde music and country music,
and began touring with an ensemble called
Shockabilly that features Mark Kramer.
At the same time, on There'll Be No Tears Tonight (march 1980 - Parachute, 1980) a trio of Chadbourne, Zorn on horns and Tom Cora on cello revisited a number of traditional country music songs.
In Memory of Nikki Arane (1980 - Incus, 1996) documents a collaboration with John Zorn recorded in 1980.
Torture Time (Parachute, 1981) was a collaboration with violinist Polly Bradfield.
Next, Chadbourne began composing pieces for home-made instruments, such as
The Secret of the Cooler (1983), later included on New Solo Music 1983.
Dinosaur On The way (1979 - House of Chadula, 1985), featuring Tom Cora, Toshinori Kondo, David Licht, John Zorn, the voice of Charles Manson, etc,
Biker Music from SE Cambodia (1985),
Wombat on the Way (1985),
Fuck the Audio Evolution Network (1987),
were audio collages.
The President He Is Insane (Indescence, 1984) contains both
protest songs a` la Phil Ochs and another audio collage.
A trio with Tom Shephard (bass) and David Licht (percussion) recorded Unreal Band (1982).
You Are in Bear Country (1985) delivered more country protest songs (KKKremlin, Devil on the Radio, You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd).
Chadbourne was joined by two saxophones, percussion (David Moss) and violin
(Jon Rose) on The Relative Band '85 (Hot, 1985).
One of Chadbourne's craziest guitar compositions is the cassette
Collected Symphonies (Parachute, 1985).
Country Music In The World Of Islam (Fundamental, 1989)
collects music from the tape series of the same name, originally recorded in
1985, and features the
Sun City Girls and Elliott Sharp.
Corpses Of Foreign Wars (Fundamental, 1986) is, again, an album of Phil Ochs-style protest songs (with the Violent Femmes).
Medley In C, from Country Protest (Fundamental, 1986), is a
sprightly eleven-minute collage in which, accompanied by the
Red Clay Ramblers and others, Chadbourne revisits
the history of rock music. The rest of the album is covers and protest songs.
His live performances also included
People Want Everything (1986), for octet of
"musicians from widely diverse genres", and
The Cadaver (1989), for corpse made of junk instruments (to be dissected on stage).
Art of Kultural Terrorism (march 1987 - Dossier, 1987) is a collaboration with violinist Jon Rose.
The History of the Chadbournes in America (1987) and
LSD C&W (Fundamental, 1987) collect covers,
including a 22-minute The Beatles Medley.
Kill Eugene (1987)
were also mostly demented covers.
I've Been Everywhere (Fundamental, 1988) is a more serious endeavor,
a folksinger album
highlighted by the merry dissonant singalong The Ring,
by the mock-existential meditation of
It Takes Longer Saying Yes Than Saying No, with a roaming free-jazz sax and field recordings,
and by the square dance of The Liar Song.
In between the songs we hear a German woman talk about life under Hitler,
a tale that turns into a lengthy political discussion in the
eight-minute We Keep The KKK In Line.
The album ends with the twisted history lesson of
Neurologically Impaired Leaders.
Vermin of the Blues (Fundamental, 1987), a collaboration with Evan Johns, covers blues, garage-rock and jazz. It will be followed by Terror Has Some Strange Kinfolk (Alternative Tentacles, 1993).
The first collaboration with Camper Van Beethoven, Camper Van Chadbourne (Fundamental, 1987), was (yet again) mostly (unrespectful) covers.
The second one, The Eddie Chatterbox Double Trio Love Album (Fundamental, 1988), is split between a side which is a tribute to Tim Buckley and a side that contains five Chadbourne originals, notably the stomping garage-rock of
Sword + Shield, the frenetic ragtime of Life X 2 Minus 1
the roaring seven-minute hard-rock of Voodoo Vengeance.
69th Sinfunny (Fundamental, 1990) was an eclectic double-LP with Camper Van Beethoven and others.
The Eddie Chatterbox Double Trio Jazz Album (1990) was devoted to jazz covers.
Chad-Born Again (1991) was another cycle of his country protest songs.
was another cycle of his country protest songs.
The three volumes of Chadbourne Baptist Church (1991-92) collect
satirical songs, audio collages and free jams.
Blotter LSDC&W (Delta, 1992) collects unreleased tracks and rarities.
Hot Burrito (november 1992 - Extraplatte, 1992) and Hot Burrito 2 (november 1992 - Extraplatte, 1993) document free improvisations with Werner Defeldecker (bass) and Walter Malli (soprano saxophone).
The instrumental album Strings (Intakt, 1993) and the vocal album Songs (Intakt, 1993) mainly deal with covers.
Electric Rake Cake (Overtone, 1994) is a retrospective of his cassette recordings.
Another Country (recorded in september 1994) collects country covers and more of Chadbourne's own protest songs.
Locked in a Dutch Coffeeshop (Fundamental, 1993) is credited to
the Jack and Jim Show, which is Chadbourne and former Frank Zappa drummer
Jimmy Carl Black.
The duo also released
Pachuco Cadaver (Fireant, 1995), devoted to Captain Beefheart covers,
Uncle Jimmy's Master Plan (1996), devoted to a variety of covers,
We'll Be Together Again (2002).
Liberation Libba Nation (recorded in 1995) marked a return to the audio collage.
The Hellingtunes (1996) was a tribute of sorts to Duke Ellington.
Total Tuesday (1997) documented a live performance by the band of
Chasin' the Captain Jack (1995), released only in 2001, is a suite about Native-American civilization for Chris Turner on harmonica, Walter Malli on saxophone and Jimmy Carl Black.
Live performances of these years included
Crude Gene Mannipulappalachian (1994) for "acoustic instruments and musique concrete",
Post Day of the Dead Ritual (1994) for chamber jazz ensemble,
Insect And Western (1996) for "symphony orchestra, gamelan and high-school jazz stage band", partially documented on Insect Attracter (Leo, 1998), Insect and Western Party (Charm School, 1998) and
The Intellectual and Emotional World of the Cockroach (1999).
Parts of it were reorganized as Termite Damage (1998).
The series was extended with Bed Bugs (2000).
Chadbourne's best work of this period was probably
the country & western opera Jesse Helms Busted for Pornography (Fireant, 1996), featuring the
Violent Femmes, Lol Coxhill and Jimmy Carl Black among others.
Nijmegen Hassen Hunt (Nosehair, 1996) collects recordings from 1984 till
Original 7 (1996) contains more audio collage.
Alas, he continued to waste his talent in albums of irreverent revisitations of
the tradition, such as
Chadbourne Barber Shop (Airline, 1996) with
Red Clay Ramblers, Violent Femmes, Sun City Girls, Charles Tyler, Walter Malli, Camper Van Beethoven,
or The Chadbourne Luck (1999),
or Young and Innocent Days (1999).
Alas, it was even worse when he recorded live improvisations with avantgarde
In Memory of Nikki Arane (1996) with John Zorn;
Boogie with the Hook (Leo, 1996), a set of duets with Bennink, Zorn, Bailey, Tyler and Verkerk;
Patrizio (Victo, 1997), Me And Paul (2001) and In the Malakoff Diggings (2002) with drummer Paul Lovens;
Boogie With The Hook (Leo, 1997) with assorted partners;
Lust Corner (Winter and Winter, 1998) with guitarist Noel Akchote.
The Acquaduct (Rectangle, 1996) and
End To Slavery (Intakt, 1997), on which he plays guitar, banjo and home-made instruments and that includes the brief musique-concrete piece of Symphony for Weirdness, fare better.
Hellington Country (march 1997) featured clarinetist Alex Ward, keyboardist Pat Thomas, bassoon player Leslie Ross, oboe player Carrie Shull and percussionist Paul Lovens.
Horror Part One (House of Chadponk, 1999) contains one of his best
pieces, the 22-minute House by the Cemetery (already premiered in 1998). It was followed by
Horror Part Two (Leo, 1999).
Beauty and the Bloodsucker (september 1999) contains a variety of original compositions.
Any Other Suggestions (1998) collects solos from 15 years.
Jungle Cookies (1998) was another detour into audio collage.
Normalized (1998) documents a live solo performance.
The Guitar Lesson (Victo, 1999) was a tribute to Derek Bailey by Chadbourne and Kaiser.
Wild Partners (Chadponk, 1999) collects more duets (Tony Trischka, Duck Baker, Loren Mazzacane Conners, Davey Williams).
The Zu Side (Felmay, 2000) was a collaboration with the Italian quartet
Motorhellington (2001), another collaboration with Zu, was a tribute to garage-rock.
Dimsum, Dodgers and Dangerous Nights (2000) was a collaboration with the Vertrek Ensemble (Ron de Jong on percussion, Vadim Budman on guitars and trumpet).
The Banjo Duet Het Grote Scandal San Francisco (2000) was a collaboration with banjo player Volcmar Verkerk.
And the Wind Cries Malachy (2002) was a collaboration with the Malachy Papers.
Worms With Strings (1998) was an album for guitar, mandolin and dobro, recorded between 1993 and 1998.
Chadbourne also released tribute albums to
Phil Ochs, Jimi Hendrix and Albert Ayler.
I Talked to Death in Stereo (may 1999) included one of his madcap chamber compositions, I Talked to Death in Stereo (premiered in 1998) for Chadbourne on electric guitar, Eena Ballard on electric viola, Joee Conroy on electric guitar and acoustic strings, Steve Good on reeds, and Norman Minogue on theremin and drums
Pain Pen (december 1999) was performed by a more regular jazz quartet,
featuring Mark Dresser on double bass,
Susie Ibarra on drums and Joe Morris on guitar.
Della 5-Banger (2000) and Seven Sisters (2000) are solo banjo albums.
Guitar Freakouts (2000) collects guitar solos from the 1980s.
Tout for Tea! (january 1995) was a collaboration with avant-jazz guitarist Derek Bailey.
To Doug (january 2000)
featured steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, harmonica player Walter Daniels and trombonist David Dove.
Piramida Cu Povesti (2001) is a solo steel-guitar album.
Horror Pt 3 (2001) and Horror Pt 4 (2002) continued the series
of horror tributes focusing on audio collages.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks, Chadbourne returned to the protest song with
New War (2001), Homeland Security (2002),
Don't Burn the Flag Let's Burn the Bush (2002),
To Prevail or Not to Prevail (2003),
I Support the Troops and I Want My Money Back (2003),
Country Protest Anew (2004).
The material was weak enough to make you wish you had voted for Bush.
Horror Pt 7 (2002) included a version of
The Post Day of the Dead Ritual (premiered in 1994) for ensemble.
L'Oasis (2002) was a collaboration with Rene Lussier.
The Competition of Misery (Stella Nera, 2003) is an anthology of
Guitar Festival Summer 1999 (Leo, 2003) documents a live performance
by Chadbourne and a number of friends.
Honky Tonk In Nachtlokal (Leo, 2004) documents live performances
(mostly covers) from 1996 to 2002.
The Foxbourne Chronicles (2006) is a collaboration with pianist Dave Fox.
The list of tedious collaborations, tributes and collections of covers is
endless. Such a list of minor works makes Chadbourne a very minor artist, as
opposed to the giant he could be if he managed to get some focus.
New Directions in Appalachian Music (House of Chadula, 2008) is all but
what it advertises. Chadbourne assembled a start-studded cast of the jazz
avantgarde (including vocalist Phil Minton, drummer Paul Lovens and multi-instrumentalist Mike Cooper), although he wasted it for covers of rock and country classics.
The double-disc 2008-2009 Insect And Western Updater mainly features a quartet with Graham Reynolds on piano & drums, Nick Hennies on vibes & percussion, and Kory Cook on drums.
The double-disc Longview (Chadula, 2012)
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Giulio Nils Caroletti)
Nonostante i richiami a una varietà caleidoscopica di tecniche chitarristiche jazz e rock, nonché alle strutture caotiche delle sinfonie di Charles Ives e ai pezzi dada di Frank Zappa, Eugene Chadbourne (1954) è un improvvisatore free le cui radici sono nella musica rurale bianca.
Ciononostante, la sua esposizione all'improvvisazione creativa di Derek Bailey e Anthony Braxton e un senso dell'umorismo demenziale conferirono un tono di irriverenza punk a Solo Acoustic Guitar Volume One (novembre 1975), forte della cacofonica Music for Mr Anthony Braxton, a Solo Acoustic Guitar Volume Two (giugno 1976), perlopiù per strumenti a corda trattati e contenente Making It Go Away, e specialmente alle Collected Symphonies (1985) per chitarra.
Un dadaismo infantile permeò The English Channel, una formidabile pièce orchestrale, creata nel giugno del 1979 sotto l'egida della musica aleatoria di John Cage, accreditata ai 20000 Statues (Lesli Dalaba e Toshinori Kondo alle trombe, Mark Kramer all'organo, John Zorn al sassofono, Bob Ostertag ai sintetizzatori, Steve Beresford agli strumenti giocattolo, Fred Frith alla chitarra, Polly Bradfield al violino, LaDonna Smith alla viola, Tom Cora al violoncello, Wayne Horvitz al piano, Andrea Centazzo alla batteria, Mark Miller alle percussioni, etc) che fu riassembalto nel 1981 e mixato con ogni sorta di campionamenti e detriti sonori per ottenere un abominevole organismo simile ai satirici collage post-moderni di Frank Zappa.
Chadbourne, provetto anche al banjo, promosse un improbabile matrimonio di country music e improvvisazione creativa su Country Music from Southeastern Australia (1983), che ospitava David Moss alle percussioni e alla drum-machine, Jon Rose al violino e al piano, e Rik Rue alle registrazioni sul campo e ai rumori.
La carriera irregolare di Chadbourne continuò ad alternare collage sonori lo-fi fatti in casa, come Dinosaur On The Way (1979), con Tom Cora, Toshinori Kondo e John Zorn, o Wombat on the Way (1985), e sarcastiche* canzoni di protesta alla maniera del country di Nashville, come Chad-Born Again (1991). Quest'ultima forma ebbe il suo picco nel country & western dell'opera satirica Jesse Helms Busted for Pornography (1996), mentre i suoi collage sonori raggiunsero una nuova dimensione con House by the Cemetery (la cui prima fu nel 1998), tratto da Horror Part One.
Il culmine estetico dell'insanità di Chadbourne fu probabilmente il monumentale progetto Insect And Western (1996), per "symphony orchestra, gamelan and high-school jazz stage band", parzialmente documentato su Insect Attracter, Insect and Western Party e The Intellectual and Emotional World of the Cockroach. Parti di essa furono rielaborate come Termite Damage (dicembre 1997) e la serie fu poi estesa con Bed Bugs (2000).
La sua folle musica da camera include I Talked to Death in Stereo (novembre 1998) per chitarra elettrica, archi, fiati, theremin e percussioni, da I Talked to Death in Stereo.
Le sue rare incursioni nell'improvvisazione strutturale furono rappresentate al meglio da The Post Day of the Dead Ritual (prima nel 1994) per ensamble.
Chadbourne fu un caso unico nella storia della musica, essendo allo stesso tempo un compositore d'avanguardia in senso classico, un improvvisatore jazz, un musicista folk e un componente di una rock band. Solo Frank Zappa può stargli alla pari in ecletticismo.
Purtroppo, come troppi altri musicisti d'avanguardia, Chadbourne non ha mai prodotto un autentico capolavoro. La sua carriera è stata una lunga sequenza di registrazioni che documentano una idea generale di arte, fra le quali poche però sono degne di essere menzionate per il loro intrinseco valore – e nessuna di esse emerge come una pietra miliare della sua epoca. In breve, molte delle sue registrazioni sono fuffa. Ma forse il punto di Chadbourne era proprio questo.