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Live, N.Y. 1980

The Blue Humans

℗ 1995 Audible Hiss AH 003

℗ 2013 barin.livejournal.com BR LLJ 41994

The Blue Humans • 1995 • Live, N.Y. 1980

The Blue Humans is the unit name given to any performance led by improvisational guitarist Rudolph Grey. (Members have included reedsman Arthur Doyle, guitarist Alan Licht, drummers Beaver Harris and Tom Surgal, and tenor saxophonist Jim Sauter.) Bridging the gap between free jazz and downtown art noise (and with records as likely to be released on a punk label as on a jazz imprint), Grey is far more interested in textures and sound patterns than conventional notes, chords, and melodies, but his improvisatory performances have a structural logic and grace to them that makes them more interesting than some of the aimless Strat splat that gets passed off as experimentation.

The famously taciturn Grey basically refuses to answer any questions about his past and admits to no influences. Grey first appeared on the post-punk New York art scene in the late '70s, forming the short-lived Red Transistor with maniac guitar terrorist Von LMO. Although the duo lasted barely a year, they were an important formative influence on the nascent no wave scene percolating in the East Village. (Grey participated in that short-lived scene by playing briefly in Mars, one of its most extreme practitioners.) Grey then formed The Blue Humans in 1980, initially with Harris, a veteran free jazz drummer, and Doyle. (This lineup was finally documented on disc with 1995's Live NY 1980.) A Blue Humans performance can be anything from a duo to a four-piece, but Grey seems to prefer the trio format above others. The Blue Humans' albums and EPs are primarily live recordings of single extended improvisations such as 1988's Incandescense (recorded during an opening set for Sonic Youth at CBGB) and 1990's To Higher Time, but there's also a studio album produced by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, 1993's Clear to Higher Time.

Grey has also released solo records and performed with '90s avant-garde jazz icons like David S. Ware and William Parker.

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