The BASSOONCORE movement in the early 1990's consists of a short list of little-known bands and foremost among those is CHOTCHKE (1993-1998), who began life as a six-piece and went on through fluctuating memberships and styles to record a lot and release a little. During the construction of their unusual musics the band would record day after day of long and amazing improvisations, often sounding like arranged pieces, stretching and utilizing the multi-instrumental talents of its members and often spotlighting its talented bassoon specialist Carrie Barclay. To the eternal chagrin of the band, the finished, polished studio versions of songs and the ever-changing sets used during tours and gigs rarely reflected the madness and majesty of the long and involved improvs created in the warm coccoon of the practice space. Anyone who has played more than twice a week with a group and tried to write music this way will empathize immediately. For one thing, re-playing inspired improvs tended to squeeze the 'life' out of them, and they never quite satisfied like the originals. Recently, while listening to the fantastic "Complete Jack Johnson Sessions" by Miles Davis I was tickled to hear that super-lineup grappling with many of the same issues, they come up with an amazing collection of sounds and riffs, and on the second and subsequent takes the piece begins to bend in all kinds of different directions, not always as satisfying as the first take.
Today I will present the first in a series of studies of the unedited studio noodling of Chotchke, in various lineups and configurations. For instance in this first long six-part improvisation, taken from a ten-part 45 minute jam, the bassoon player is on a saxophone, and I believe plays guitar on the second stand-alone piece "F-Sharp Song/Blue Shorts". I enjoy hearing new ideas coalesce instantly while the members are playing, and crazy segues happen while the band is in motion. Let's get in the Wayback machine and slip into the groove.
Our first six selections are all indexed from a continuous uninterrupted and infamous jam which produced several song ideas, recorded on September 18, 1994. The seventh file is a single long improvisation from July 23rd, 1995.
A lovely full story of the band, with photos and ephemera can be found here.
I hope you enjoy being a fly on the wall as they work through these crazed musical magmas.