Composer/trombonist Robert Jarvis. Photo by Andy Newcombe.

Find out why Sam Bailey, pianist and organizer of the Free Range experimental music and poetry series at the Veg Box in Canterbury, introduces this performance as “Robert Jarvis, improvising trombone, and the most intelligent & unpredictable computer software that improvises that I’ve ever heard!”


If you close your eyes, you’d swear Jarvis is performing with a large ensemble of acoustic and electronic performers; rest assured there’s no one on stage but Robert, his trombone, and Kyma, “fueled,” as Bailey puts it, “by this crazy supercomputer called the Pacarana.”

Opening with orchestral-sounding atmospherics, travelling through rainforests of birds and squealing mammals, proceeding through monochromatic regions of percussive air bursts and the rhythmic tolling of bell-like noises, through rhythmic loops, reflective self-examination, and interludes of music worthy of a TV action drama sound track, evolving into dance-like counterpoint with bubbly sine waves, and building to a dramatic high point at around 28 minutes, Jarvis is a master of pacing, variety, and narrative structure.  That first climax dissolves into growling timbres that morph into wailing whale-song, building to another percussive high point at around 31 minutes, followed by elephantine, broadband timbres that relentlessly build back up only to sublimate into an ethereal sustained section with mandolin-like multipluck synthetic doubling. Centering on D, building tension around a B-flat-E tritone, he launches into a solo cadenza around 42 minutes.  After the frenetic energy and drama, the piece ends slowly and reflectively, followed by seemingly endless applause and clinking of glasses and, last but not least, a lively post-concert discussion.

Your next chance to catch a live performance by Robert Jarvis is later in March when he’ll appear as a special guest of Burning Wood on Saturday 23rd at Creek Creative, Faversham.

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