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Cutting Board


2014 release. Alan Sondheim was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; he lives with his partner, Azure Carter, in Providence, RI. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from Brown University. A new-media artist, writer, and theorist, he has exhibited, performed and lectured widely. His band Ritual All 770, whose debut The Songs (Riverboat, 1967) was reissued by the Fire Museum label, was included on the notorious Nurse With Wound list of outsider/avant-garde influences. Sondheim is the first artist from ESP-Disk's 1964-75 heyday to return after its revival in 2005 with an album of new material. Sondheim joined the roster with a 1967 session, Ritual-All-7-70, then followed up with 1968's T'Other Little Tune. (Drumming on the latter was Joel Zabor; now known as Rafi Zabor, he reunited with Sondheim at ESP's 50th anniversary concert in November 2013.) Sondheim got his musical start as a guitarist, but soon moved into a much more original sound utilizing a vast array of instruments from around the world. Cutting Board, his eighth album, is his first instrumental group album; his other albums have always either been solo (and there are two solo tracks on Cutting Board as well) or featured female vocalists. Though he's a pure improviser, Sondheim rightly insists that he doesn't play jazz; even playing with two saxophonists, he's outside that tradition's spectrum. The eclecticism of the sounds he's working with sonically can tenuously seem to connect him to world music, but he doesn't play the instruments in traditional ways. And on rare occasions you can hear the blues lurking, but it's not likely that Living Blues will be putting him on the cover. Maybe if somebody starts a music magazine (or website) called Beyond Category, then Sondheim can be a cover subject. Alan Sondheim, ghichak, cura, chromatic harmonica, Chinese mouth harp, saz, tro so, electric saz, sarangi, sung lisu, ukulele, flute, cura cumbus, classical guitar; Christopher Diasparra, tenor and baritone saxophones; Edward Schneider, alto saxophone.