Jooklo Duo & Bill Nace – Scratch LP

While touring together last year, Virginia Genta and David Vanzan of Jooklo Duo and guitar noise improv master Bill Nace recorded this high energy collaboration, Scratch, at Seizures Palace in Brooklyn.  The result you may have expected: full-throttle free-jazz noise gallivanting.  And you would be right, but it is doubtful one could fully predict the value and pure euphoria that this collaboration has actually produced.

Scratch is comprised of two tracks, each completing a side of the disc.  The record starts off with the squeal of Genta’s sax and the screech of Nace’s punished guitar hissing at one another as Vanzan’s thunderous percussion tumbles into the mix, setting everything into an immediate tailspin.  The sound remains at a full tumultuous volume, like a rolling car wreck that just won’t settle.  Surely you’ve heard noisy free-jazz do this before, but it is unlikely you’ve heard it done so brilliantly, and seemingly innately so.  And due to the trio’s roller-coaster dynamism and unending inventive energy, it is impossible for a listener to habituate to their hyperactivity, as change is the only constant here.  These players haven’t forgotten the freedom that their improvisation is founded on and successfully avoid traps of convention and routine that can even exist for a “genre” designed to be rid of inherent traditions.  Punk became a convention, noise did as well, and there is now a plethora of contrived improvisational jazz, but Nace and Jooklo subscribe to none of these molds and have proven that an improv record can still be fresh, cohesive, and just bad ass.

Over the course of the two lengthy tracks, no instrument assumes its position or acts in debt to any established roles.  Nor do the players seem to engage in some active conversation, but rather, all participate in some violent unconscious séance, raising hell for shits and giggles, discovering nothing at the end of their cerebral journey other than their own forms, and choosing to marvel at themselves instead of succumbing to existential dread.

Scratch is some hardcore fucking ecstasy driven by intuition and musical blood lust, definitely, but the record finishes us off with hushed meditation and unexpected atmospheric expansion.  We’re eased out of the action gracefully, leaving a longer-lasting flavor with greater complexity on our palates.

This record really must by heard.  I would dare to preemptively elect this release as record of the year. (The Esoterrorist, March 26th, 2012)



Jooklo Duo & Bill Nace–Scratch LP

(Jackson, Flipped Out Records. March 24th, 2012)



Jooklo Duo and Bill Nace's Scorching Free-Improv LP, 'Scratch'

Virginia Genta and David Vanzan—self-taught students and torchbearers of the avant-garde, most notably the explorations of American free jazz—are Jooklo Duo. As a two-piece and as collaborators, Genta and Vanzan have been creating dynamic, mesmerizing improvised music that defies categorization for the better part of a decade.
Last year, the pair travelled to the US and undertook a tour with guitar-experimentalist (and Thurston Moore’s go-to noise-buddy) Bill Nace. In between shows, the trio managed to secure some studio time at Seizures Palace in Brooklyn to document this monumental meeting of fire and electricity—the results of which can be heard on the new Holidays Records release, Scratch.
Comprising two side-long pieces and limited to 350 copies, Scratch is a searing summit between Genta’s fire-spewing saxophone, Vanzan’s powerful percussive tumble, and Nace’s napalm-shower guitar. Not noise, not jazz,Scratch is pure energy and intuition—a blsitering conversation between three of the world's most exciting improvisers.
(Jeff Conklin, East Village Radio, March 19th, 2012)



Live: Jooklo Duo Beats The Heat And Clears The Air At Silent Barn

"I had forgotten why I hadn't been to Silent Barn in months. When I walked in last night, I remembered: dead air. Not in the radio sense. Maybe the atmosphere could pass for sultry, if not for the mildewy musk. And the single ceiling fan in the main room—well, it's just living a lie. Still, it's an easygoing funhouse of hallways and stairways splattered with colorful junk, and the bills tend to be high-energy/low-fuss collisions of punk and noise, and there's a cat. Last night it also hosted the last area appearance of Italy's cosmic-jazz flame-throwers Jooklo Duo, who'd popped up at Issue and the Stone during the past couple of weeks.Before that could happen, the trio Devon, Gary and Ross played. Surely some slapdash trio of neighbors, except... say, that's Gary Panter with the guitar. And his devil-won't-care trio has an evolved notion of fucking around with rock's pebbles, tossing off some seasick sci-fi vamp and then ducking into a cracked spy-jazz tune. Then they turned out deeply messed-with versions of July's lysergic late-'60s nugget "Dandelion Seeds" and Funkadelic's anti-Vietnam song "March to the Witch's Castle." Sitting in the jungle-like air, it was hard not to be a little stupefied. The pedigree of the night belonged to the next trio, as the most avant-versatile man in town, C. Spencer Yeh, teamed with Ju Suk Reet Meate and Jackie Oblivia of noise pioneers Smegma. Arranged around a small buffet littered with toys, a microphone, an old record player and some modified noise-making objects, the three projected spare constellations into the air, lines and shapes that overwrote each other playfully and a little absurdly. It was so right with the environment that, late in the set, the orange tabby sauntered through the crowd and under the table, as if nothing was amiss.
The air needed clearing, though—a job for Jooklo. Virginia Genta is a wee lass who handles her sax like Zeus does lightning. Her partner David Vanzan is a lanky basher of things, unleashing flowing rolls and bursts with more of a rock provenance than you normally get with fire music. They fully inhabit the '60s free-jazz aesthetic by blasting it into the present. Intrinsic to the spirit of their music is that there is room for more; this set included the unsurpassed noise guitarist Bill Nace (colleague of Thurston and the rest of the Northeast wool-gathering clan) as well as the powerful and peculiar saxophonist Tamio Shiraishi (onetime accomplice to Japanese guitar colossus Keiji Haino).
Vanzan looks across the floor, quietly says "Pronto" as if it weren't a command, and the group breaks like a shot. It's impossible not to notice Genta first and most—she goes right after it, tearing furiously at the sky in high registers, chasing some celestial imperative that you can almost glimpse in her headlights. She's self-taught, and you feel like she found her first language with her instrument. Vanzan is redefining explosion from a single event to a state of being; Nace claws nimbly but viciously at the guitar on his lap, torturing strings with fingers and tools. Shiraishi, meanwhile, is laying back—literally, behind the others, looking away, seeming detached, not playing. No matter: The waves are shaking through the floor and into our bones. So how dramatic is it when Shiraishi sweeps to the front and jumps in with both feet, totally simpatico with the fire already raging! Man, the sound in this hot smelly room is bright.
The quartet keeps us pressed to the sky for ten minutes, no let up, until they let up. Then a 20-minute piece, with shifting momentums and a lower-ebbing tension, Genta loping from sax to clarinet to something Turkish-looking with a reed, then to strings of bells, which she takes on a short walk. Shiraishi is playing cat and mouse again; the resident cat is nowhere to be seen, which is just as well, cause Nace is hammering on his strings with what looks like a cat's food bowl. This group's energy is wild as hell but not chaotic; there's a distinct order at work within their improvising. They bring it back up to a pitch together and end it, certain finality as Vanzan is unscrewing cymbals before the sound decays. The air comes to a halt again. Out out out."
(By Mike Wolf, Village Voice NYC, June 17th, 2011)



Jooklo Duo | Interview


Flying into New York City from Italy, then driving up to the mountains and hiking around for a while isn’t a bad way to kick-off a substantial Stateside tour. Maybe such a setting’s appropriate for the visceral players comprising Jooklo Duo, multi-instrumentalist Virginia Genta and drummer David Vanzan. Nature’s not diametrically opposed to extemporaneous jazz—each can be chaotic. A shoddy phone line connected Genta with Time Out just as she emerged from the trail.

Time Out: Were you guys in psych bands before playing together? How different was that than Jooklo Duo and how much of a set is improvised?

Virginia Genta: Before we were playing jazz, we were playing really noisy stuff – the two of us were psychedelic from the beginning. We’re playing as a duo now more than in the past, because it’s so easy to travel. We can do whatever we want, playing with local musicians in every country we go to. Playing together for almost ten years, it’s kinda hard to improvise now. It’s more like instant composing.

TOC: It seems like you’ve been able to connect to the avant-garde in the States pretty easily. What about European players – John Butcher types.

VG: Not really with those kinda guys. That’s another generation, I think. European improvisation – we’re outside of that. There are European musicians, who maybe aren’t well known here, but we’re looking for great musicians – younger guys. When we’re playing with somebody, we don’t care where they’re coming from—jazz, rock. We’re concerned with the sound. We don’t have boundaries; we just need players to make a connection with.

TOC: Jooklo Duo seems to connect less with spiritual concerns when compared to players like Pharaoh Sanders or Coltrane.

VG: This is our thing we’re reaching for. The result can be the same—the same kind of feeling. Music can still come to the same point and have the same power. It’s 2011, I was born in 1984. That’s a big difference. For me, I still feel close to those guys.

We were playing in San Francisco—it was pretty amazing, actually—Phil Musra, whose been playing free since the seventies, came up to us after a show and said, “You guys are keeping our tradition alive.” We’re just doing our small part to create some good energy in the world.

TOC: How do audiences respond to your energy and the music? They probably don’t dance.

VG: This isn’t even about entertainment anymore. We’ve been inspired so many times by so many musicians, I think it’s important we give that same inspiration to other people to spread it around, to create something. If you go back to before music became entertainment, it could keep the community together. Improvisation, for us, is our tool for uniting people. Of course, we’re not always successful. Our playing can affect those who aren’t involved with music. It’s universal and universal music can make people join together and do something good for the universe. (By Dave Cantor, Time Out Chicago, June 9th, 2011)


Jooklo Duo and Bill Nace in Pittsburgh

"I made it out to a show at Garfield Artworks on Monday night. Manny brings in a lot of avant jazz folks that I've never heard of and don't get a chance to see. So when I saw the flyer for the Jooklo Duo - a man and woman from Italy - I made a mental note to check this show out. I had no idea if they were the free jazz type of improv or noisy electronics kind of improv. Regardless I was going to be there.
The opening act was a local fella who performs under the name Burnout Warcry. He had a table full of instruments: a small keyboard, a chain that looked like line used when fishing; a kazoo, bells, metal plates. He also had a suitcase that he routinely kicked to fill the space that a kick drum would typically handle.He played for about 20 minutes, all told: one longer piece, one shorter one. And he used all the instruments to fill the space. Sometimes he looked like he wasn't sure what to grab next, or how to continue the sound, but most of the time, he seemed pretty assured. Most people would've thought he was just messing around and that it was pointless, but he kept the sound going. The length of his set was just enough.
Jooklo Duo were actually a trio that night because guitarist Bill Nace had joined Virginia Genta (reeds and things) and David Vanzan (drums) for this tour. Nace's guitar added a level of consistant drone to the set, but it could've come down in the mix a little bit. As the set started, he was bowing the guitar and Vanzan was gentle playing his kit. For the longest time, he didn't pound the drums, which gave the drums a nice muted effect. It helped put the spotlight on Genta, who began by blowing the double-reed horn the zorna, on which she used circular breathing to keep her tone flowing. She picked up the clarinet, but some of the nuances got lost in the swirl of guitar drone (he had it in his lap the whole time) and drums, which by now were getting kind of loud.
When Genta picked up her tenor saxophone and started to blow, I wrote "Oh yeah, now you're talking" in my notebook. The band was now firing on all four cylinders. Her tenor playing was reminiscent of early Gato Barbieri, with a gush of wild overtones. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was coming from her and what was coming from Nace due to the volume and the echo from the room and instruments.
As the set moved on, the sound swelled more and more. Genta pulled out the jew's harp, the one instrument that was hard to hear over everything else. But that 
boing was in there somewhere. Vanzan, whose past-the-shoulders length hair and full beard, together with his lanky frame made him look like some '70s prog rock dude, whipped out a flute and started playing it into one of the drum mikes without batting an eye. I don't think he looked at his trap kit once while he was playing. Nace creating the sound of a beehive and later a leaky faucet, while Genta moved to melodica, then cowbell and police whistle, to which she added some vocal yells. Then after about 45 minutes, things died down and Vanzan let fly a final thump across his drums. The kind that says "the end," and mean it. I wasn't about to argue."
(By Mike Shanley, Shanley On Music, June 16th, 2011)


Jooklo Duo live at The Rotunda in Philadelphia

Jooklo Duo are a sax and drum team from Italy. They play free jazz and are LOUD. I walked in out of the rain and met the two at the door actually. The sax player is female, short, long hair, the drummer is very tall with beard and long hair as well. So I got something of a psychedelic vibe from them, they asked me if I was a jazz maniac and because I am I said yes. The sax playing was solid, she really knew what she was doing and the drummer was making use of literally every part of his drum kit. Very primitive, almost tribal. Stripped down jazz but so full of raw energy, and relentless. Throughout the 45min set there was only one pause, not even, for the audience to squeeze in applause. Most of us just sat there enraptured. Other instruments they used included a flute, penny whistle, bells, and several other ones I couldn’t recognize but reminded me of music class as a kid. At one point they both left the stage and walked around creating a drone like sound that went well with the acoustics of the room. I really enjoyed them and they are definately doing a superb job of keeping free jazz contemporary and exciting while still displaying technical adeptness and solid musical forms. Definately check out their records or see them live. (Robotic Reviews, May 20th, 2011)


Jooklo Duo is High

"Quick, name an Italian jazz ensemble. Yeah, I can’t really do that either. Jooklo Duo, are set to do that, however. Why these folks are different from your drummer friend who just put out a run of cassettes with him improvising is pretty interesting. Instead of fitting a buncha junk into a single improvisation – or song, surely, some parts of High were pre-figured – the band’s saxophonist leans on what a note can do, when necessary. Granted, there are various moments, “Pawa Now!” for example, that get pretty chatty. But the ability to move in and out of that is what makes Jooklo Duo engaging.
How these folks made it over from Italy is still a mystery and they’re not garnering a wealth of coverage here in the States. This summer, though, the duo seems to be readying a national, Stateside tour. That’ll be interesting to witness. And probably, bloody loud."
(Alternative Music Talk, April 6th, 2011)




Jooklo Duo "The Warrior"
Northern Spy 7"

"Boss Italian woodwinds/drum duo who skronk the big bulb of freedom as hard as anyone. The overblowing is as insane as either of Borbetomagus’s lips-guys, so it vibes like a collision between them and Flaherty/Corsano duo or something. Raw, loose, jibbery. (Byron Coley, The Wire, April 2011)



Jooklo Duo "The Warrior"
Northern Spy 7"

"Latest blast of blown out, super fierce and fiery free jazz pummel from this Italian duo, whose last tour cd-r was a huge hit around here, and whose surprisingly hushed and minimal instore was pretty fantastic. But for those of you
who lucked out and snagged one of those cd-r’s or saw the duo perform live when they were in SF, you know what you’re in for, two sides, two tracks brimming with nonstop, relentless, frantic, frenetic, explosive super rhythmic, wildly tangled and super psychedelic next level free jazz freakout. The drums never let up, laying down a super textured avalanche of rhythmic shuffle and skitter and pound, a non stop drum solo, that manages to be totally free, yet somehow strangely rhythmic, but it’s the sax and clarinet, wielded by Virginia Genta, that drives these jams, the sounds she gets out of her horns are inhuman, alien, free jazz may skronk and squeal, but this stuff SHRIEKS and GRINDS and is just a face peeling onslaught of strangled notes, atonal melodies and wild high end squiggles. There are bits of extra percussion, some vocals, even a little blast of harmonica (?), but this is definitely hardcore free jazz that will send anyone with any sort of aversion to skronk and squeal and shriek running for the hills. The rest of us can just revel in Jooklo Duo’s divine jazz chaos."
(Aquarius Records, San Francisco, March 2011)



Jooklo Duo "The Warrior"
Northern Spy 7"

Since 2004, this Italian two-piece has been sending the cats of the world scurrying for cover thanks to the unholy screeches torn from the stratosphere via Virgina Genta’s amazing freeform sax playing. As she vamps, her musical
partner David Vanzan provides a rich, loamy bed of drum rumbles and quick shot cymbal splashes. The latest effort by the Jooklos is this two track 7? representing one of the first releases by the label Northern Spy Records, an outfit staffed by former ESP-Disk employees. The appropriately named songs – “Primitive Power” b/w “Fire Liberation” – use those titular ideas to blast out some raw, heated noise that only lets up for brief breath-catching moments.

(Robert Ham, The Voice of Energy, February 8th, 2011)



Jooklo Duo "The Warrior"
Northern Spy 7"

"Jooklo Duo consists of reedist Virginia Genta and drummer David Vanzan, and their work has appeared on a number of instantly-out-of-print LPs, cassettes and CD-Rs that have captivated the New Weird Europa environment.
The Warrior is the first Jooklo-related material to be released on a US label (the young Northern Spy Records is run by former ESP staff), and is supposedly going to be followed with a full-length. That’s a good thing, because the pair takes the screaming buzzsaw over-blowing of Duo Exchange (Rashied Ali-Frank Lowe, Survival, 1973) as a starting point, reed-splitting tenor micro orgasms slicing the air as fractured rhythmic brutishness stokes the flames on “Primitive Power.” The flip continues at the same absurd pace, clattering metallic polyrhythm supporting reedy vomit in both tenor and soprano variants, as well as clarinet. Like Arthur Doyle, the reed instruments are channels for expressive ferocity, and their precise nature seems unimportant beyond slight refinements on extreme action. The Warrior plays at 33 rpm, extending by a couple of minutes each slice of brain-scraping and smoke-clearing exorcism. Good shit.
Ed. Note: Northern Spy honcho Adam Downey has informed me that the Jooklo single is indeed a 45, though it has been sounding great at 33 rpm (the labels don't specify). This reminds me of the scenario where a friend had Coltrane's Black Pearls LP on 45 by accident and declared what a smokin' bebop record it was... anyway, try it at both speeds if you dare!
" (By Clifford Allen, Ni Kantu, January 25th, 2011)



Jooklo Duo "The Warrior"
Northern Spy 7"

"The name Jooklo has graced several different projects of varying styles over the past few years, but its core duo, as represented on this 7-inch, consists of Virginia Genta on sax and clarinet, and drummer David Vanzan.
This record comes to us from the Northern-Spy label, also home to releases by The USA Is A Monster and Old Time Relijun, and certainly can be compared to the chaos and abrasiveness of those bands, but instead of Load-style noise-rock or Beefheartian avant-rock, this is pure, squonking free jazz .The record doesn’t specify which speed it’s meant to be played at, but all indications point to 45. It’s brutal enough at 33, but it’s absolutely scorching at 45. “Primitive Power” on side A is three nonstop minutes of fury; “Fire Liberation” goes on for a few longer, and has a slight break in the middle, but only for a few moments. Both sides are guaranteed to wake anyone up at any hour of the day or night when played at maximum volume."

(Paul Simpson, Foxy Digitalis, January 10th, 2011)



Jooklo Duo meets John Blum Live at WFMU

"I was pretty excited when I had the opportunity book the tenor sax/drums band Jooklo Duo for a live session at WFMU. I've been a fan of their excellent Qbico releases and while together and separately Virginia Genta and David Vanzan have collaborated with many radical free jazz players working today, they seem a bit under the radar for how visceral and intense an experience they deliver.  That might be partly from living in the Italian countryside where they're free to develop their raw and constantly searching musical methodology away from sucker influences of the urban elite.  If the throw-back version of scree seems outdated to some free music fans, it's their loss; the holy ghosts of ESP-Disk' and BYG/Actuel live in Jooklo's sound, style, and unrepentant forward thrust, a stop-and-you-may-die kind of spiritual commitment to this music and lifestyle.  Don Cherry's '70s global wanderings and Taj Mahal Travellers' zoned benevolence may be more appropriate touchpoints to Jooklo Duo, who are open to unruly and authentic musical experiences wherever they happen to occur and in whatever context. When Virginia asked if we had a piano in WFMU's studio, I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised when they brought John Blum along for the tussle.  John has released records on Ecstatic Peace, Eremite and the German label Konnex, and played extensively with heavyweights like Milford Graves, Bill Dixon, William Parker, Sunny Murray and Denis Charles. I expected a physical approach to the keyboard but did not anticipate the full history of jazz influences in his playing. I heard the likes Cecil Taylor and Muhal Richard Abrams, yes, but also Jaki Byard (a personal fave) and even all the way back to Art Tatum, Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson (I swear, listen for the stride!).  This was the first time these three played together, which was a surprise to learn. I asked Virginia about the origin of her tenor sound, tough and upfront, but also melodic and unpredictable. She was reluctant to name her favorite sax players.  No matter, the playing on this session speaks volumes.  Please enjoy!" (By Scott Mc Dowell, WFMU radio, April 27th, 2010)



Jooklo Duo "High"

"We had never even heard of Jooklo Duo until recently. Even though they have oodles of records and cd-r's out, many of them on their own Troglosound imprint. No use kicking ourselves, all we can do is dig in and catch up, which we're doing big time. Not only do we have this kick ass, super limited tour only cd-r, available only at shows on their current US tour OR from aQuarius, nowhere else, we're copresenting their show at Cafe Du Nord on April 21st (more on that elsewhere on this week's list), we're also hosting a Jooklo Duo instore on April 20th (also more about that elsewhere on this list). So by all means, come to the instore, go to the Du Nord show, and buy one of these cd-r's before they're gone, you won't regret it.
So for those of you, like us, who are relatively new to the magic of the Jooklo Duo, are the Italian duo of Virginia Genta on sax, flute and voice, and David Vanzan on drums and percussion, they're sort of free jazz, but also just sort of spaced out avant improv, as at home jamming with Burnt Hills or No Neck as they are on a jazz bill, maybe more so. They incorporate all sort of haunting vocals and chants, into their constantly shifting skittery improvised mystical sound explorations. Eastern melodies, Gamelan sounds, it's free, and improvised, but also mystical, occultic, spiritual, the sound of revolutionary sixties free music, channeled through the spirit of today.
On High, available only at aQ and at shows, the duo are on fire, maybe one of their most intense recordings ever, the sax is blown out, in the red, fierce and fiery, the drums, wild and octopoidal, the two instruments, dancing around each other, frenzied and frantic, and about as heavy as free music gets, they're heavily influenced by Coltrane and Ayler and Cherry and Coleman, and it's easy to hear that on High, it's like post post POST bop, the sax is a lethal weapon, the drums laying down suppressive fire, a totally transcendent, epic, mind blowing, next level, free jazz blowout. WAY recommended, as are the upcoming shows.
LIMITED TO ONLY 100 COPIES. Each one hand numbered. We got about half, you can only get them here at aQ, or at the shows on this tour, they're packaged in super swank paste on cardstock sleeves, with a super striking miniature full color version of the San Francisco show poster inside."
(By Aquarius Records, San Francisco, CA, April 2010)



Jooklo Duo "Live in Itri" 10" on Qbico

"New Qbico timez! This time around our little shipment contained a hat-trick of vinyls from the Neokarma Jooklo camp in various configurations and I think this is my hat-trick of reviews for the collective? We've got Peaceful Messages by Neokarma Jooklo Experience, Memories From the Age of the Dragon by Neokarma Jooklo Trio and the super limited expensive art edition job Live in Itri by Jooklo Duo, which is what we'll be having a wee look at today. It's an energetic one, documenting a live date full of trouser flapping high intensity drum 'n' sax improv which could strip paint (in a good way). The Brotzmann style reed assault particularly needs to be heard to be believed, with all kinds of crazy, strangulated tones flying out into the cosmos while the drums keep pace admirably. It's pretty cool to hear these guys stripped of the tropical fusion feel of the larger groups, cutting loose in the most in-your-face style possible. It's quite fancily presented too as you'd (have every right to) expect, all plastic sheets and splattery coloured vinyl and that." (Norman Records, December 3rd, 2009)



Jooklo Duo live at the Wire 25th, London

"My second and last Wire magazine WXXV event, this time at free-improv bastion, the Red Rose… Kicking off: a set by, support act, Italian Jooklo Duo, Virginia Genta on fiery, tumbling tenor sax, and David Vanzan on free, astral, scattering drums; a really crude outlook, but cool sound. Vanzan with that beautiful floating shimmering hi-hat like Rashied Ali off Isis and Osiris. Genta more noisy but perfect, with deep roots to the avant-garde of the 1960s." (By Off Minor blog, November 22nd, 2007)