Saxophonist Wilson Shook & percussionist Ted Byrnes careen their way through an hour-long session of surging, stuttering, howling improvisation. The two innovate, mutate, and abandon themes on the fly, never exhausting, always pushing each other to greater invention and commitment, sculpting a cacophonous whirlwind of precisely honed energy.
Having met and collaborated in the months leading up to the rupture of COVID-19 and the widespread revolt of 2020, the two eagerly reconvened for a series of duo explorations in Byrnes’ studio over the first half of 2022. “Joy” captures one such session from May 24, 2022, presented here from start to finish.
Wilson Shook is an improvising saxophonist and manual therapist living in Oakland, CA since 2022. His approach to music has been shaped by collaborative relationships with Gust Burns, Paul Hoskin, Ben Bennett, Greg Kelley, Carol Genetti, Ted Byrnes, and others, as well as an ongoing sonic exploration of the resonant void spaces of American hydrologic and transportation infrastructure. For ten years Wilson helped to organize the performance space Gallery 1412 in Seattle, and has a long association with the Seattle Improvised Music Festival.
A self-taught musician, Wilson approaches improvisation, study, collaboration, and performance as sites of radical experimentation with modes of being, relating, and perceiving. Wilson’s practice cultivates an awareness of human vulnerability and technological fallibility; embraces excess, fragmentation, and incompleteness; and pursues the chaotic, queer, and interdependent imperatives of aleatory existence amidst a crumbling, toxic culture.
Attentiveness, transformation, commitment to the materiality of the musical act and its consequences; radical presence as the only avenue of escape. Always mindful of the axiom, via Éluard—There is another world, but it is in this one.
Ted Byrnes is a drummer/percussionist living in Los Angeles. An alumnus of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, he comes from a jazz background and has since made his home in the worlds of free improvisation, new music, electro-acoustic music, and noise.
Ted primarily works in ad hoc improvisational settings, but has standing improvisational groups including: a group with John Wiese, a duo with Jeff Parker, a duo with Chris Cooper (AQH), a duo with Charlie Mumma, a duo with Sam McKinlay, a duo with William Hutson, a trio with Jacob Wick and Michael Foster, among others. Additionally, Ted has played in duo/trio/or ensemble settings with: Mazen Kerbaj, Matt Weston, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Charlemagne Palestine, Alfred 23 Harth, Arrington de Dionyso, Jaap Blonk, Torsten Muller, Kim Myhr, Jim Denley, Lloyd Honeybrook, Chris Schlarb, Mike Watt, Paul Masvidal, the LAFMS (including Smegma, Airway, Ace Farren Ford’s Artificial Art Ensemble, Rick and Joe Potts, Fredrik Nilsen, Tom Recchion, Vetza, etc), Sissy Spacek (the band), Maher Shalal Hash Baz, and more.
Ted’s recorded output oscillates between heavily acoustic music and harsh noise while keeping a similar approach.