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eartrip – issue 2

Hello again.

It’s been a while, but the long-promised second issue of ‘eartrip’ is here. Included are interviews with Hugh Hopper and Alexander Hawkins, an audio feature on Politics and Jazz, a defence of John Zorn, and a large reviews section which covers many recent jazz/improv CD releases/re-issues, as well as George Lewis’ excellent AACM book.

The magazine is available, in PDF Format, by going to the download link below:

Or to this alternate link:

Dick Bowman’s also put it up on his FTP server:

And finally, if you don’ want to do all that reading onscreen, you can get a print copy (A5, black and white) from The cost is £8.04, including postage. As with the first issue, this print option has been set up by Dick Bowman, to whom I’m very grateful, and neither he nor I get a profit – all the money goes to

The download link for Anthony Whiteford’s Politics and Jazz audio feature is included inside the magazine, but I thought I’d also make it available as an online stream: click the button and listen below.

Anyhow, enjoy and please leave feedback (either by email or as a blog comment).

David Grundy

About dmgrundy

Studying Part II English at Cambridge University, I present 'One Step Beyond', a radio show on CUR1350 (Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin Student Radio), and am a member of The Cambridge Free Improvisation Society.

13 responses to “eartrip – issue 2

  1. Anonymous ⋅

    Many thanks…a great read.

  2. stet lab ⋅

    Wow—a 137 page magazine for the price of a net connection—I appreciate it.

    Impressive collection of stuff, and while I find all the articles of value (and it’s always good to read interviews with newer musicians) I wonder if you’d consider writing/publishing articles that deal with more local, ‘low-level’ practices.

    I understand that the process may seem pretentious or gratuitous, but, especially if you have the academic and writerly chops, I’d find near-real-time accounts from the ground-level of practices and performances a fascinating read, and something that I rarely find in mainstream publications. Also missing from those publications are accounts from musicians early in their explorations, and people involved in the creation, sometimes in hostile environments, of improvisative (sub)cultures. The UK, for example, has many small-time, no-budget (or at best poorly funded) grassroots groups that are involved in the creation and maintenance of improvised musics (I’m thinking of semi-organizations in, say, Oxford, Birmingham, Liverpool and, of course, Cambridge).

    We do have the opportunity to explore our practices without having to wait for a decades later retrospective ‘A Power Stronger Than Itself’, and one lesson to be learned from the AACM is that if you don’t document your practices either no one else will, or they will represent you according to external dogma or to support a hegemonic agenda.

    My two cents.

    Keep up the good work.


  3. Anonymous ⋅

    A defence of John Zorn? You either dig it or you don’t! What kind of juvenile nonsense is this. I read the first issue and found it full of avant-garde cliches. It demonstrated a high schoolers grasp of both Brotzmann and Evan Parker. The very fact that issue 2 contains a defence of Zorn means I won’t be reading it. I personally do not care for much of Zorn’s music but attacking and defending are best left to the sandbox.

  4. david_grundy ⋅

    Thanks for your comment. Perhaps you’d care to give something a chance – i.e. actually read it – before you publically dismiss it. Perhaps you’d also be civil enough to a) send me a personal email with your concerns, and b) let me know your name, rather than hiding behind a mask of anonymity.

  5. Anonymous ⋅


    Use your head. We don’t need grad school analysis. This music is obscure enough it doesn’t need obfuscating. If you want to perform a much needed service, find people who dig the music to review the cds. The rule of thumb should be to situate the music synchronically (in relation to contemporary musical and cultural events) and diachronically (perhaps place it in the context of the artist’s ouevre or in relation to various musical traditions). They should attempt to write about what they hear and avoid cliches and jargon.

    Articles should not exploratory, maybe on women in improvisation and the intersection of gender and music. You should also have an artists write a piece in each issue. A column on an overlooked classic, etc. Use your head, avoid agendas and trifles. I read the entire first issue. You don’t need to eat an entire apple to know that it’s bad.

    There is a void here, step up and fill it.

    A. Nonymous

  6. the improvising guitarist ⋅

    They should attempt to write about what they hear and avoid cliches and jargon.

    Wonder what an article on those lines would look like; how would it read? Do you have examples in mind?


  7. david_grundy ⋅


    thanks for replying. Firstly, you don’t have to address me by my last name. I haven’t knowingly done anything to offend you. I don’t know who you are. You don’t like eartrip – fine. But there’s no reason you can’t construct your criticism in a civil manner. Last-name adress and the barking out of orders (‘use your head…step up and fill it’) isn’t exactly polite, in my opinion. Putting things in that manner is sure to put people’s backs up, and I am actually offended. Not that I’m offended by criticism – I welcome it – but the manner in which you’ve chosen to deliver that criticism.

    So far all I really know is that you don’t like a couple of things I said in the first issue about Brotzmann and Evan Parker. Now I know that some of the things I wrote in the first issue were perhaps a bit off-target, and I do regret writing some of them – or at least, the way I put them. Then again, I don’t suppose you read an edition of any magazine – whether it be The Wire, Bill Shoemaker’s Point of Departure, Jazzwise, or whatever – agreeing with everything that’s said. I’m not infallible. I’m learning as I go along, as we do we all. No one ‘knows it all’. I’ve never claimed to be perfect.

    I also find it offensive that you suggest I don’t ‘dig’ the music. How the hell can you know whether I ‘dig’ it or not? Surely, if I’ve put together two 100-page plus editions of eartrip, investing a hell of a lot of time and effort, and for no financial reward, that indicates that I perhaps think the music is worthwhile – that I ‘dig’ it. Read my blog posts at ‘Streams of Expression’; listen to my radio show – then come back and tell me I don’t ‘dig’ the music.

    My aim is to get more new writers – I don’t want the whole thing to be just my outpouring of ideas, and I’ve said so in an editorial (did you read that?) I’ve asked for contributions, for writers to come forward, and some have. But it’s a gradual process – a lot of it is about word of mouth, building a presence. These things take time.

    People need to come forward and tell me what they think – as you have done. Your ideas sound really interesting: an article on gender and music is just the sort of thing needed, you’re right. Perhaps you would care to write it?

    But I really don’t like conducting this sort of debate in public – things can so easily turns nasty and spiteful thanks to the facelessness of internet communication, and this sort of dirty laundry is often ugly for other people to see. If you want to conduct a further discussion, I really would appreciate it if you sent me a personal email. Just in case you haven’t come across it on my blogger profile, my address is

    And again, hiding behind ‘anonymous’ is not cool. It suggests you’re scared of something. If you want to bring all this out into the open, at least have the guts to say who you are.


  8. Anonymous ⋅

    Scared? Of what? Is calling you Grundy really impolite, David? If so, that was unintended if that even matters. I have no idea if that’s a real name or not. All internet communication is really anonymous, let’s not kid ourselves.

    If I had time, I’d contribute or I’d be writing for AAJ. What I find offensive is insider cliques and grad school analysis. That tripe turns people off. This is art, let us struggle to explain it or at least what we like about it. Where did I say you didn’t dig the music? I’ll tell you what though, the cliched comments on both Parker and Brotzmann betray a failure to grasp the developments in their music. I’m not a fan of either but that much was obvious. We are a small community, let’s struggle together and not be defensive. Dirty laundry? How many people read these comments? 20? I tried to made a few constructive comments and I am challenging you to think hard through this. You have the balls, that’s half the battle now use your head. Thinking through this is not so easy.

    A defence of John Zorn? As if some battle wages over Zorn! In the real world, John Zorn’s music is virtually inconsequential. I feel like that title could be written by Dostoevsky’s underground man. How about “An introduction to John Zorn” that’s more needed.

    There are endless possibilities that cry out for exploration, e.g., the historical relationship between free jazz and electro-acoustic improvisation. Questions like why did the free jazz players of the US turn to composition? That history has not been written and many of the people who created it are gone.

    There is great potential in starting up a publication. I hope you steer clear of the jargon-laden phase we all went through in grad school. Our writing should be concise and lucid especially because the music is difficult. Avoid words like ideology, hegemony, and deconstruction or at least define them clearly if you must use them. You’re writing about art not producing it.

    Best to you DG. I might glance back in a few issues. Time, time, time…

  9. Anonymous ⋅


    Here is an example of someone honestly writing about some extremely difficult music.

    I think it is a pretty good example of someone who is listening to the music. You can actually listen to the recording and read the review and know what he is trying to describe.


  10. david_grundy ⋅

    To be honest, I don’t really see how the allaboutjazz article you’ve linked to differs that much from the many reviews posted in eartrip. “Musicians in top form in the service of some stellar compositions,” “the free flow of innovative composition that still somehow manages to groove” – this doesn’t seem like some whole new fresh discourse to me, cliche-free and entirely faithful to the music. It’s a decent review, but hardly the pinnacle of all achievment.

    I really can’t help but feel that you’re making generalisations. I’m puzzled as much as anything by your criticism. On the hand I think you’re expecting to provide a perfect publication which lives up to your high standards and completely satisfies everything you expect – to produce something of the quality of Ekkerhard Jost’s ‘Free Jazz’ or Val Wilmer’s ‘As Serious As Your Life’, on every single page, every single issue. On the other, I find it quite hard to see what you’re actually accusing me of. Just repeating the phrase ‘grad school analysis’ is hardly constructive criticism. Give me more concrete examples of what you mean and I may find it easier to see what you’re getting at.

    Also, it seems that you want the magazine to bring in new ‘converts’ to the music – to be ‘evangelical’ in function. While that’s obviously a bonus, I don’t see why I have to. You don’t think that John Zorn’s music matters in the ‘real world’. Well, fine. Plenty of things don’t ‘matter’ in that sphere but people still consider them important, and deserving of serious consideration. I don’t see why I should have to package things as ‘introductions’. The people who read eartrip are most likely people already ‘into’ this type of music. Sad, but true, the idely curious are probably not going to bother. But I don’t think I can be the superman you want who’s suddenly going to convert everyone to the cause of Zorn, or this music, or whatever. In that sense, your expectations are just too unrealistic.

    You’d write more if you had time – well, you’ve obviously got the time to type up your anonymous criticisms. What I find offensive as much as your aggressive tone is that I’ve taken the time and effort to produce something like this, out of love for the music, trying to do the best I can to describe what I hear and why I think it’s important, and then I just get thrown vague phrases like ‘grad-school analysis’, cliche, clique, etc. If you think you can do better, I re-iterate, send me an article.

  11. Anonymous ⋅

    I nowhere said the AAJ review was the pinnacle of anything. I said it was honest. It contains no passing commentary like “…Evan Parker with his circularbreathing
    solo soprano sax trick, which he’s done to death now” which you wrote. This is utter bollocks. And you not only thought that about Parker but had the arrogance to actually publish it. It screams that you’ve no idea what you are talking about. It’s George W. Bush syndrome. Parker has developed extended techniques to create a whole new vocabulary for the instrument. Obviously, you don’t get it. I’m not even a flipping fan of his music and that much is obvious. How such a remark could occur is explainable by youth (you’re in grad school) or sheer ignorance. I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the former.

    If you liked rock and roll and were reading a new publication that routinely said things like the Beatles wrote nothing more than formulaic bubble gum pop, would you read the second issue? Would you?

    Eartrip is full of self-important remarks like that. There is no modesty. How long have you been listening to this music? Three years? There were two possibilities when I first saw Eartrip, it was going to serve the community or serve your ego. By now you know what I think.

    You’ll hear no more from me.

  12. david_grundy ⋅

    Well, as I said before, the offer for you to write an article is still open. The ego impression is something I’ve been very wary of, and I explicitly said that I wanted more writers to avoid it becoming a one-man ‘trip’.

    Someone’s called me up on that Evan Parker comment before, and as I said to them, it is something I regret writing. The sentiment that motivated me to write it is actually a little more complex than appears – indicating a genuine concern rather than a mere flippant dismisal – but by choosing to make it as a passing remark, it came across completely the wrong way. I can see how you get the impression you did reading it. I would too. It would probably put my back up, as it has yours. But I think that that sort of comment is the exception rather than the rule, if you read the whole of the issue. And if you actually chose to also read my review of the Evan Parker/Squarepusher live concert in the same issue (not to mention the review of the Parker/Matthew Shipp duo album), you’ll see a more detailed appreciation of Parker’s playing.

    But this is getting us nowhere. As I said before, email me anytime if you want to write anything. Otherwise, I’m sorry this has all ended in an acromonious a tone as it began.


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