9 Meals from Anarchy
The Improvisor reviews "9 Meals from Anarchy" More unexpected and entirely fresh music from the Hanumans. One of the elements that most makes this so welcome, so left-field, is Theodoratus' electric harp. She adds piquant and enlivening darts to each track, helping to make them gravity-defying and disarmingly festive. In fact, there's a joyful, buoyant spirit throughout, partly because the group takes such a casual and unrespectful attitude toward jazz and free improvisation. To them total freedom really is a means to do something that upsets expectations and boundaries. Heyner's mournful erhu and Florino's corkscrewy lap steel bring outside-the-box intelligence and heart to the proceedings. The Hanumans continue to banish constrictions, which is as high a compliment as I can pay them. There's as much originality and sheer surprise here as you'd find in an average 20-30 free albums. Richard Grooms The Big Takeover (issue# 65) reviews The Hanuman Sextet - 9 Meals from Anarchy This is the second CD from the Hanuman Sextet, a downtown N.Y.C. improve group consisting of Andy Haas (sax, raita, morsing, live electronics), Don Fiorino (lotar, lap steel), Mia Theodoratus (electric harp), Matt Heyner (bass, erhu), and drummers Dee Pop (Bush Tetras) and David Gould. That's quite an unusual lineup, and the sheer variety of timbres is dazzling. Lot's of avant jazz deliberately avoids a beat, but while this crew sometimes goes all-out free improv, more often there's some kind of groove, however skewed, and often a melody as well, though the one standard, a wild reconstruction of "Everything Happens to Me", is one of the more far-out tracks. Adventurous, genre-defying music. From Memory Select: Avant-Jazz Radio:... Andy Haas (sax) and Don Fiorino (guitar) are improvisers who craft a unique sound, one with heavy doses of world music and a subtext that I'm guessing comes from a lot of classic-rock listening during formative years. They've got two very different CDs in rotation with us right now. Hanuman Sextet can be traced back to psychedelia experiments with Indian music, but it's also got healthy doses of jazz horns, lots of steel guitar (not your usual improv instrument), and some more down-to-earth grooving than you normally get from the psych crowd. REVIEWS OF 'CONFUSING THE DEVIL' (2004) BY THE HANUMAN SEXTET Confusing the Devil is the excellent debut CD from the Hanuman Sextet, six Downtown musicians on the front lines of reinventing music. The Sextet is composed of Andy Haas on shofar, raita (Moroccan oboe), sax and electronics; Don Fiorino on banjo, lotar (Moroccan lute) and lap steel guitar; Mia Theodoratus on electric harp; Matt Heyner on bass; David Gould on drums; and Dee Pop on percussion. The unique instrumentation combined with the musicians' backgrounds in classical, experimental, jazz, blues and rock immediately points to something special, but what really makes this group combust is it's fearless spirit and open-minded ears. The CD consists of four songs, all recorded live at Dee Pop's venerable Freestyle Series at CBGB's Lounge. Each song is a generous outpouring of improvised music, an auditory treat of layers and textures, melodic dissonance and emotional urgency. The music is grounded in the talents and imaginations of the improvisers, allowing them tremendous creative freedom; the songs turn sound inside out, and slip into places you never knew existed. The musicians play with total commitment, and each song is a fascinating journey that only improves on repeated listening. One hint of where the Hanuman Sextet is coming from can be found in the song 'Incestuous Amplification'; according to the liner notes, incestuous amplification is 'a condition in warfare where one only listens to those who are already in lock-step agreement, reinforcing set beliefs and creating a situation ripe for miscalculation.' The quote's relevance to current events is clear, but the concept of incestuous amplification also applies to music: by conforming to set ideas about what jazz is, we simply reinforce existing beliefs, and make the tragic mistake of negating original voices. Fortunately groups like the Hanuman Sextet are keeping the flame alive, creating music that takes firm steps into the unexpected. Florence Wetzel - All About Jazz New York Free improve from the Downtown NYC scene. Several things here are different from any freeprov material I've heard before. Haas plays the shofar (ram's horn) and the raita (Moroccan oboe). Fiorino plays the lotar (Moroccan lute). All of this adds new and intriguing horn colors to any improve music I've heard before. But it's Theodoratus' electric harp more than anything that stamps the sound of this band on the memory. It sometimes sounds like a strange variation on that stereotypical harp music used on tv shows to cue a flashback. That, and a half-dozen other things you wouldn't expect out of a harp, electric or not. It fits hand-in-glove with the band's swirling, almost chaotic semi-noise. Post-tribal, very hypnotic but pre-mental breakdown, this is music that renders listener psychoactive plant use redundant. Recommended for the tense and adventurous. Richard Grooms, The Improvisor.