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May 2004

Grey Ghost
How to Create Words
482 Music

The use of computers in free jazz is moving at a slower pace than I would have thought a couple of years ago. It's probably just a matter of time before jazz musicians in greater numbers begin integrating such powerful sound-making and manipulating tools as AudioMulch, Reaktor and Tassman. While we're waiting for others to catch on, Grey Ghost has gotten a jump on it. On How to Create Words (482) the duo-Aram Shelton, saxes and computer; Johnathon Crawford, percussion, synth, melodica-incorporate unnamed digital signal processing software into their free-jazz concept with a modicum of success. On "Spitzacolli" Shelton uses delay on his horn to develop short motivs, as Crawford adds percussive accents. "Splendor" is a minimalist glitch piece; "Horns and Organ" uses programming to create a spontaneous Hammond B3-like bass line that Shelton and Crawford blow over and around. The duo uses the computer creatively and musically, but in the end they only scratch the surface of what is possible, relying heavily on just a few elements-the glitchiness in "Unheard, Other Bands Practice" and "Spool," for instance, is hardly distinguishable from that in "Splendor." Both gentlemen they're a bit unformed as instrumentalists, but they're no doubt promising and should be given plenty of credit for plunging into (relatively) unknown waters.

Originally published in May 2004
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