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You’re currently reading “john blum,” an entry on metropolis | jazz, free-jazz and improvised music
- 01.10.06 / 4pm
- artist portraits
born 1968 in New York City, pianist/composer has performed as a group leader and soloist for the past ten years.
While an undergraduate from 1987-1991 Blum studied with Bill Dixon and Milford Graves, and performed regularly in a quartet with Marco Eneidi and Jackson Krall. After college he also studied with pianists Borah Bergman and Cecil Taylor. In 1992, while in Europe, he worked with Han Bennink, Antonio Grippi, Tristan Honsinger, and Tony Scott.
Upon returning to New York City, Blum became a member of the Improvisers Collective (1993-1995) and also initiated projects as a soloist, a group leader, and collaborative works with other musicians-including Rashid Bakr, Roy Campbell.,and Daniel Carter. He led a large ensemble in 1995 with Karen Borca (bassoon), Joe Daly (tuba), Jackson Krall (drums), Alex Lodico (trombone), Raphe Malik (trumpet), and Sabir Mateen (tenor saxophone). This group played at the first Vision Festival in 1996 and was later featured at Roulette in 1997.
Along with his solo and group projects in 1996, he also worked with the Cecil Taylor Orchestra and performed piano duets with Cooper-Moore at the Whitney Museum. By early 1998 he joined together with Antonio Grippi on alto saxophone, William Parker on bass, and Denis Charles on drums to form Astrogeny, for a series of performances. In another project, Blum worked with members of his former ensemble, Joe Daly and Jackson Krall, in a trio format. This trio also played at the 1999 Vision Festival.
During 1999 Blum performed in a quartet with Jemeel Moondoc on alto saxophone, Gerald Cleaver on drums, and William Parker or Sirone on bass. That year he received a compositional grant from the Jerome Foundation which financed the performance of two ensemble pieces – with Karen Borca on bassoon, Jemeel Moondoc on alto sax, and Randy Peterson on drums.
Blum was pianist for the Bill Dixon Ensemble premiering Dixon’s commissioned piece, “Index” at the Vision Festival in 2000. At the following year’s Vision Festival (2001), he performed as a soloist. Throughout 2000-2001 Blum played in a trio with Mat Maneri, viola, and Michael Wimberly. Currently, Blum is at work on several collaborative projects- including a trio formed in 1993, with Sabir Mateen, tenor saxophone, and Jackson Krall, drums. This trio will be featured at the VISION festival on June 1, 2002.
John Blum on Eremite Records
John Blum Astrogeny Quartet
John Blum: piano, Denis Charles: drums, Antonio Grippi: alto saxophone, alto-clarinet, William Parker: bass
Tracklist: 1. simultanium (12:20) 2. astrongeny (15:17) 3. encomia (06:27) 4. dieci (09:03)5. astrogeny reprise (03:12) recorded 11 february, 1998, nyc
There are few sessions to rival this one for sheer urgency and gusto. it’s as if something pent-up in these four musicians waited for this combination of players to unleash it–the music explodes into action. pianist john blum is a secret hero of new york’s free jazz community, known as a proficient & forceful improviser in the tradition of his mentors, borah bergmann & cecil taylor. blum’s performance on astrogeny is his shining moment on disc to date. The legendary denis charles was at his best when paired with william parker; together they formed one of the great, yet under-documented, rhythm-sections in the music. antonio grippi, a shadowy figure in free-jazz history, makes an appropriately rousing contribution on alto saxophone.
“special note should be taken of blum. the dude is sick; he’s like a free-jazz frank hewitt, only much younger –a monster player shamefully ignored by the new york city critics and overlooked by the labels. he should be heard.” — jazztimes chris kelsey