The Wire


Peter Zummo uncovers lost material from 1984

February 2018

Stream the New York trombonist's recently retrieved collection of live single takes

US composer Peter Zummo studied trumpet at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, but switched to trombone after moving to New York in 1971. His subsequent years as a musician were focused on composing for performance, as well as collaborating with set designers and choreographers for pieces such as Instruments (1980) and Lateral Pass (1985). His debut LP Zummo With An X was released in 1985. But only a few other Zummo compositions have since been released on record – at least not until recently.

Following its 2014 pressing of Lateral Pass, London label Foom is now releasing Frame Loop. The set includes recently rediscovered 1984 material featuring Zummo's frequent collaborator Arthur Russell on amplified cello, Bill Ruyle on marimba and Mustafa Ahmed on congas.

“For me, individual perception of meter emerges in this take on the then current 1980s sensibility,” remarks Zummo about his Frame Loop recordings. “Each of us musicians feels free to take personal initiative within the context of ensemble obligations. Our perceptions and decisions push and pull the beat with varying simultaneous effects on it. The collective beat that results has a forward momentum – either coordinated as an interlocking groove or falling in and out of place as a more hazily organised sound field that features changing degrees of improvisation. This is an exercise in spontaneous arrangement: I hew close to the score, which I provided, while introducing occasional canonic lines and variations. Arthur Russell alternates between rhythm playing and solos. Bill Ruyle vamps on the notation and adds harmonies, while Mustafa Ahmed drives the forward movement with his improvised conga playing.”

Frame Loop is released by Foom on 2 March. Peter Zummo will play in London 1 March. Tickets are available via the Cafe Oto Website.

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