Zeena Parkins

Nightmare Alley

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The leading New York avant jazz harpist has appeared on hundreds of free improvisation recordings in collaboration with artists such as Fred Frith, John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Lee Ranaldo, and Ikue Mori, among many others. During the '80s and '90s, she pioneered the electric harp of her own design, an instrument which thrives on the rich tonalities of the traditional harp matched with the flexibility of an electric guitar. The instrument was so unique that it shaped and influenced the music she composed and improvised for it; she thus became an in-demand performer on any number of downtown avant-garde projects. Ranging from free jazz to dance and theater music, her projects are all given the signature of her unique instrument and sharp ear for improvisation. For this solo CD on Table of the Elements she presented a series of exceptional solo improvisations and compositions, some kept within shorter-song format such as the openers "Sleep" and "Empty Bottle." While "Model for a Colossal Moment" and "Peephole" stretch out into extended explorations in the seven-minute mark, most of the pieces are kept to short vignettes. Effortlessly switching between serrated noise and controlled feedback outbursts to delicate extended harp improvisations, Zeena Parkins' solo performance is a stunning display of her extraordinary talents in avant-garde and experimental music.

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