Guatemala (1990) | Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos

13 07 2013

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series CDR 3

GUATEMALA (1990)

Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos

Humming Bird Earth Series CDR 3 (Previously Earth Series Cassette 500)

Note: All of this music was recorded outdoors on basic equipment in “real life” circumstances, under conditions far from optimal for recording. Yet the ambience, excitement, and electricity of the music shine through in ways that fully reflect its cultural authenticity. It is to provide a small cultural looking glass into a world or worlds barely known to most of us that these recordings are presented. I hope they will encourage you to want to know more, to open your world up more to the many fascinating and diverse worlds around us.

Pieces 1 & 2 were recorded on the eve of the festival, October 30, 1990 and were played by four players from the nearby village of San Juan Atitan. Pieces 3-10 were played by three players from Todos Santos and were recorded on the first day of the festival, October 31, 1990. The players are playing a single 40-key marimba with resonators. On the recordings by the band from Todos Santos, the “middle” player changes after Pieces 3 & 4.

Tracklist: San Juan Atitan: 1. 7:21, 2. 4:15; Todos Santos: 3. 4:00, 4. 4:20, 5. 3:39, 6. 4:01, 7. 5:08, 8. 3:49, 9. 4:39, 10. 4:38

listen to Henry Kuntz Guatemala 1990 | Track 3 Todos Santos

Buy Henry Kuntz – Guatemala 1990 here…

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

While most of Guatemala and much of Latin America is celebrating the Day of the Dead, Todos Santos—the village of All Saints—is celebrating its village festival as well. It is a nominally three-day affair that begins October 31st, though the festivities are in the air some days before. The festival is the major event of the year, and everyone from the village, no matter where they are—many men work on the lowland coffee plantations for much of the year—makes every effort to return for the occasion.

The people of Todos Santos are Mam (meaning “grandfather” or “ancestor”) and they are descendants of the ancient Maya.

In spite of a road being built only a few years ago connecting the village with the larger town of Huehuetenango, it is still a relatively isolated place. The road is not much to speak of —a winding boulder-strewn dirt road full of pot holes, certain to cause havoc with any vehicle of less than super strength.

Todos Santos is situated 8,000 feet above sea level, in a valley of the Cuchamatanes Mountains. The road to get there climbs to nearly 11,000 feet before its descent, at its peak looking and feeling as much like some part of the Andes as of Guatemala. And at festival time, the Guatemalan buses are as packed with people as the stuffed-with-humans trucks that ply the Andes. From Huehuetenango, it is 3 ½ slow hours by bus, an experience no foreigner arriving at this time of year will ever forget!

For all that, Todos Santos is a magical place—perhaps not even all that special, but extraordinary in its geographical setting and in its own ordinariness. By “ordinary” I should say that it is ordinary for Guatemala, for like all of the country’s traditional villages, it is a visual delight. Men and women both still wear their traditional dress. Vibrant reds and pinks stand out everywhere, impressionistically offset by every color of the rainbow. And the earth itself is thick with red dust and clay.

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

It is a mysterious place too, for though the mornings at this time of year are sunny and bright, illuminating the green-forested mountains that ring the village, by 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon, the highland mist is so thick and damp you can barely see half of one adobe block ahead of you.

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

No matter what is happening once the village has moved into its “festival time”, marimba music is the glue holding it all together. At about 4:00 in the morning on October 31st, the music began in earnest and continued with only the slightest interruption for three days and nights! There were at least a dozen different bands, some from other villages, playing in every far-flung nook and cranny, with incredible physical demands placed upon the musicians.

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

Each band plays a single marimba with 40 tuned wooden keys, underneath of which are progressively-sized, loudly buzzing, wood box resonators. The buzzing is as integral a part of the music as the playing itself, a combination of notes and their vibrations always lingering in the air after they’ve been played. There are four players for each instrument, though usually only three play at one time, the fourth person acting as a timely and much needed relief for one of the other three.

One player plays the high end of the instrument, another the low, while the musician who plays the “middle” is often the leader, at his best (listen closely to piece 6 or any of the ensuing pieces) both countering the rhythmic bottom while at the same time adding decoration to the higher-pitched melodic line.

The marimba accompanies every kind of event —the festival’s “main” event, the out-of-time “horse race” of November l, during which riders power their runs with shots of rum or aguardiente (not so long ago, the riders would also competitively yank off the heads of suspended chickens but, thankfully, no more!); commemorative ceremonies in the cemetery November 2nd; the colorful day-long masked dances and other ceremonies in between—but the playing of the music is also an event in itself.

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

The back yards of various host houses are the sites for much of the playing throughout the festival, and these are occasions for copious rum consumption, dancing, hooting, and passing drunkenly into the void for the men. The women may not get drunk until November 2nd, the festival’s final day.

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

GUATEMALA (1990) Marimba Music from the Festival of Todos Santos Humming Bird Earth Series

The marimba, however, sets a tone for the entire festival, and often more than one band can be heard playing at the same time while one is walking through the streets of the village. Indeed, without the marimba, the festival itself may not exist.

On the recordings presented, the first are from a band of four young players from the nearby village of San Juan Atitan. The remaining recordings are from a band from Todos Santos playing a brand new marimba with a mellower tone and with older musicians of somewhat more professional caliber.

Throughout the village, as I have mentioned, there were other bands and other musicians from other villages, each making their own contribution to this year’s festival of Todos Santos.

Recordings, Notes and Photos by Henry Kuntz. Digital Audio File by Michael Zelner. C & P Humming Bird Records 1991/2013 – All Rights Reserved




Henry Kuntz | IINFIINIITY

28 05 2012

“Multi-track recordings have been an essential means of expression for me since 1989. Within pieces that are unique in sound, multi-cultural context, and instrumental combination, I’ve been able to showcase and synthesize those musical elements that are most important to me: independence of line, textural complexity, and equality of instrumentation and mix, The process of multi-track creation has been an ongoing musical exploration and experiment, the results of which have consistently surprised and delighted me. I hope you enjoy listening.”Henry Kuntz (March 2010)

Original Recordings & Mix by Henry Kuntz. Digital Master by Michael Zelner. Photos by Henry Kuntz. Label by Paul Kuntz. Humming Bird CDR 3 – C & P Humming Bird Records 2010 – All Rights Reserved

IINFIINIITY

Trans-Temporal Trans-Spatial Multi-track Creations

1. Critical Density (19:58) Soprano recorder, Balinese & Thai wood xylophones, drums & percussion recorded July 15, 1995; tenor saxophone recorded February 8, 2007. (First released on Speed of Culture Light Cassette Box, Dreamtime Tapes, 2007.)

2. Double 8 Bird (3:30) Hand drum, fetish gongs (Togo), balafon (Mali) recorded September 23, 2009; rhaita (Morocco) recorded August 26, 2001.

3. Grandfather Grasshopper (4:19) Two large bamboo xylophones (Bali), balafon (Mali) recorded September 23, 2009; soprano recorder & Nepalese bamboo flute (played together) recorded August 26,2001.

4. Grandmother Spider (3:23) Wood xylophone (Bali), slit drum (Guatemala), Thai wood xylophone recorded September 23, 2009; Hollowed-out log violin (Mexico) recorded August 26, 2001.

5. Islands to Highlands…the New Polyphonic Orchestra (4:59) Nepalese & Balinese bamboo flutes (played together), two Guatemalan bamboo flutes (played together), Bolivian bass flute recorded October 10, 2009; rhaita (Morocco) recorded August 26, 2001.

6. IINFIINIITY (13:18) Center tenor saxophone, left & right Tibetan bowls recorded August 26, 2001; Left and right tenor saxophones recorded September 23, 2009.

HENRY KUNTZ – IINFIINIITY (CDR by Humming Bird)

This new album by mister Kuntz is subtitled “Trans-Temporal Trans-Spatial Multi-track Creations”. It clearly points at what is happening here. For Kuntz multi tracking is not some necessary evil. On the contrary, for him it is an essential way of composing music. In all compositions on “Iinfiiniity” Kuntz uses old recordings from his archive, and combines them with new presently added playing. There is a time gap of about eight in most pieces. And maybe recordings were done at different places as well as the subtitle suggests. This procedure is like a dialogue with oneself. Kuntz the improvisor in 2001 or 1995 is not Kuntz the improvisor in 2009. Another combination that is relevant for Kuntz is shown by his use of asian and african wind and percussion instruments on the one hand, and western ones on the other. But it is not only the use of exotic instruments that give his improvisation an exotic flavor. It is also because of the way Kuntz structures his improvisations that his music has similarities with ethnic and tribal music. Again an inspiring and original work from this veteran improvisor. (DM) http://www.vitalweekly.net/741.html

Buy Henry Kuntz – IINFIINIITY – Humming Bird CDR 3 (CD or MP3) here…

HENRY KUNTZ

MULTI-TRACK DISCOGRAPHY

1989 – WHIRLS AWAY (HBT 007 Cassette)

1. Whirls Away (23:10)
2. Spirit Whirls (21:02)
3. New Peace (22:33)
4. Shadow Peace (22:57)

Instruments include Balinese gamelan and gamelan selunding, Balinese wood and bamboo xylophones, African balafon (Mali) and “fetish” gongs (Togo), Mexican Indian violin, Chinese musette, Bolivian bass flute, Thai mouth organ, voice.

1990 – HOME (AT) THE RANGE (HBT 008 Cassette, Side B)

1. Sea Smoke (Fire) (14:19)
2. Nebulous Night, Mythic Gardens (13:46)

Instruments include Thai and Balinese wood xylophones, Balinese gamelans, African balafon (Mali), Chinese musette.

1991 – TOTAL MUSIC 1 (HBT 009 Cassette)

1. Jangle of Shadows, Jungle of Hearts: A Leaping Flame’s Embrace (14:45) 2. Untouched Sound, Unfound Black Green Nights, Revel of Unknown Life’s Delights (14:43) 3. Swimming Through Burnt Red Coral in Deep Turquoise Waters (Naked), Schools of Sparkling Goldfish, Dash of Angel Fish (17:25) 4. Sands Shift, Continents Drift, Tides Ebb and Flow, Hot Winds Blow; Night Falls and I Am Alone in the Forest. (Morning Brings Snow.) (12:05)

TOTAL MUSIC 2 (HBT 010 Cassette)

1. Sacred Burial Ground, Wherein Lie the Bones of the Most Wise (14:30) 2. Iridescent Dawn Follows Nightlong Singing and Dancing (Sun and Moon in the Same Sky (15:01) 3. Earth Mother Cries and Sends Love to Her Children. All Creation Hears Her… For A Moment (10:52) 4. Elephant Herds, Flights of Wild Birds (18:26)

Instruments include Balinese and Javanese gamelans, Balinese wood and bamboo xylophones, African balafon (Mali), Balinese and Bolivian bamboo flutes, Chinese musette, tenor saxophone, Mexican Indian violins, thumb pianos.

1992 – ON THE PATH OF DARKNESS IS THE WAY OF LIGHT (HBT 011Cassette, Side B)

1. A Butterfly Awakens, Fulfilled Wonder Filled With Wonder Spreading Its Delicately Jeweled Wings (14:15))
2. (Silver Heavens) The Lands Where Snakes Are Honored (14:31)

Instruments include Balinese and Javanese gamelans, Mexican Indian violin, Nepalese bamboo flute, Balinese bamboo xylophone, Thai wood xylophone.

THE FREEWAY IMPROV COMPILATION TAPE

1. and somewhere SOUND OF LIGHT we require PASSING what silence requires (4:32)

Instruments include Balinese and Javanese gamelans, Balinese wood xylophone.

1993 – PLACELESS TIMELESS 1 (HBT 012 Cassette)

1. Earthly Pleasures, Songs from the Forest (21:00)
2. Demons and Deities + DIVINE HEROES (20:27)

.

.

PLACELESS TIMELESS 2 (HBT 013 Cassette)

1. Dew Silk Flowers (14:39)
2. Nighttime Spirits Come (Jaguar, Starfish, Python, and Eagle): Growth of Water Lilies (7:50) (also on Speed of Culture Light cassette box)
3. Time Was When JAZZ Began… (20:14)

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PLACELESS TIMELESS 3 (HBT 014 Cassette)

1. The Five Directions (22:10)
2. Reaping the Harvest, Replanting the Seed (22:26)

Instruments include Balinese and Javanese gamelans and wood and bamboo xylophones, Thai and African wood xylophones, Tibetan bowls and bell, Chinese musette, tenor saxophone, Indian snake charmer’s flute, Mexican Indian violin, assorted drums and percussion.

1994 – THE MAGIC OF MYSTERY (HBT 016 Cassette / foxglove cdr 087)

1. The Magic Of Mystery (13:27)
2. Giants And Genies (14:05)
3. The Memory Of Meeting In Ancestral Dreams (15:21)
4. Knowing Without Knowing Where The Wind Blows (15:14)

Instruments include tenor saxophone; Chinese musette; Thai, Nepalese and Bolivian bamboo flutes; Thai, Balinese, and African wood xylophones; Balinese and Javanese gamelans; Tibetan bowls; assorted drums, gongs, and percussion.

1995 – SPEED OF CULTURE LIGHT (2007 dreamtime tapes cassette box)

1. Fancy Glance (12:37)
2. She Emerged From the Confluence of Two Rivers (9:28)
3. 6 Track Angels (20:06)
4. Critical Density (19:58) (1995 & 2007) (also on IINFIINIITY)

Instruments include tenor saxophone, soprano recorder, Balinese and Javanese gamelans, Chinese musette, Balinese wood and bamboo xylophones, Balinese bamboo flute, various drums and percussion.

2006 – WAYANG SAXOPHONY SHADOW SAXOPHONE (HB CD 6)
Tenor of the Times (Four Tenors)

(1) Storm of Honey (11:38)
(2) Silver Serpent of Justice (8:33)

Instruments include four tenor saxophones.

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2005-2008 – WHIRLING SUN VISIONS (HB CDR 1)

1. Celestial Forest (9:06) (also on Speed of Culture Light cassette box) 2. Solar Sonic 1(4:43) 3. Solar Sonic 2(4:07) 4. Solar Sonic 3(4:12) 5. Ele-Fantasia (3:58) 6. DreamSong 1(9:10) 7. DreamSong 2(6:40) 8. Gods Within (6:01) (also on Speed of Culture Light cassette box) 9. Whirling Sun Visions (4:58)

Instruments include tenor saxophone, Balinese and Javanese gamelans, Balinese bamboo xylophones, Balinese and Thai wood xylophones, African balafon (Mali), Guatamalan chirimia, Mexican Indian violin, voice.





Henry Kuntz | Whirling Sun Visions | Humming Bird CDR 1

9 07 2010

HENRY KUNTZ – WHIRLING SUN VISIONS!

Humming Bird cdr 1

“Multi -Track Works – In – Process Miniatures”

1. Celestial Forest (9:06) – Tenor Saxophone, Javanese Gamelan, Bali “large” & “small” bamboo xylophones. (The saxophone is used exclusively in the lower register to mimic the percussive range of the bamboo xylophones.) July 17,2005 2. SolarSonic 1 (4:43) September 19, 2007 3. SolarSonic 2 (4:07) September 19, 2007 4. SolarSonic 3 (4:12) September 23, 2007 – Four Guatemalan chirimias. (The down-to-earth sound of the double-reed chirimia is extended to trance-like dimensions when multiplied. In SolarSonic 2, speed of execution is the dominant factor whereas in SolarSonic 3 the “noise” quality of the instrument is emphasized. SolarSonic 1 is a mix.)

Whirling Sun Visions
Of Beatific
Sound
Explode the Mind
Like a Flaming
Galaxy
Into Light Years of Bliss

5. Ele-Fantasia (3:58) – Four tenor saxophones.(Playing in a deliberately “scribbled” manner resulted in this heady dance.) September 23, 2007. 6. DreamSong 1 (9:10) August 25 &26, 2008. 7. DreamSong 2 (6:40) August 25 &26, 2008. -Tenor saxophone & voice, Mexican hollowed-out log violin, Javanese gamelan, Balinese wood xylophone & Mali balafon.(Freely-associated voice gave a dream-like quality to this music similar to that of Indonesian wayang.) 8. Gods Within (6:01) – Tenor saxophone, Balinese gamelan, Bali and Thai wood xylophones. (Inspired by the music of Marion Brown.) July 19, 2005. 9. Whirling Sun Visions (4:58) Tenor saxophone and Balinese gamelan double duo. (In the lineage of AA.) October 27, 2008. Total Time: 52:45

Music by saxophone player Henry Kuntz has been reviewed before and no doubt on one of the occasions I wrote about the fact that the saxophone is not really my favorite instrument. I do make exceptions for those players who use the instrument in a different way, like John Butcher for instance, and perhaps also for someone like Kuntz. Even when he plays his instrument in a different way than Butcher, more traditionally, there is more to his music than just the saxophone. On ‘Whirling Sun Visions’ he offers nine works for multi-track recording, playing along with his self, but also incorporates lots of ethnical percussion, like gamelan, ‘Mexican hollowed-out log violin’, ‘Mali balafon’ and his own voice. Kuntz keeps his music ‘limited’. Dense in nature, but with few variations on the various sounds he produces. His music is minimal, but not through the use of loops. Real-time repetition of sounds, layered on top of eachother, with small variations in playing. Free play at work here of microtonal stuff, which works quite well. Neither free jazz or saxophones could interest me very much, but in Kuntz’ hands this sounds pretty well. (FdW)

Subtitled “Multi-Track Works-In-Process Miniatures”, this is a collection of pieces for overlaid saxophones, vocals and exotic percussives, although the latter are not present in all the tracks. Kuntz appears very interested in the generation of ritualistic moods through the concurrence of different pulses, the presence of the Javanese gamelan adding evident metallic/melodic tints in episodes like the opening “Celestial Forest”. But if we pretend to be transported in a parallel dimension, this recipe leads to the magnification of an innocent-sounding density, a child playing with a series of reed instruments in a room full of clocks. The segments where only amassed saxes are featured are more comparable to the gathering of seagulls fighting for food on a beach, kind of a semi-chaotic superimposition of pattern-within-pattern designs which translates into a peculiar type of entrancement, a bunch of Poppy Nogoods who have had a few too many. (Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes)

Listen to Henry Kuntz | SolarSonic1

Listen to Henry Kuntz | DreamSong2

Listen to Henry Kuntz | Gods Within

Buy Whirling Sun Visions – Henry Kuntz – Hummingbird CDR 1 here…