The summation of FMRJE's musicianship amounts to more than a century of drumming and orchestral improvisations.
FMRJE was established in Boston in 1989. Currently I am brodcasting live from the fmrje factury studio on StageiT, click on for the upcoming live show. Recent fmrje factory performers: Michael Shea-keyboard, Hilary Noble-tenor saxophone, flute, percussion, Ted Demmons-electric guitar, Chris Florio-electric guitar, Jonathan Keezing-electric guitar,conguero Jose Arroyo, electric bassist David Warren and drummer Dennis Warren who energetically strokes the music with all improv, all original, all the time drum power.
Beginning in 1974, I studied with Professor Graves, polyrhythmic innovator, at Bennington College. In 1980 Tor Yochai Snyder and I met in the Black Music Department of Bennington College, chaired by trumpeter/composer Bill Dixon. My course of study was in American Literature, Politics, and Performance in Black Music. After graduating from Bennington College in 1984, I returned to my hometown, Boston, Massachusetts.
In the mid -eighties Martin Gil and I renewed our percussion association with guitarist Tor Snyder to perform in various concerts and groups. Flautist Earl Grant Lawrence and I crossed musical paths at the Community Music Center of Boston, where we both were teaching in 1987. Raphe Malik and I renewed our musical connection in 1989, when he invited me to join in his new Quartet; it was in the Quartet that I met acoustic bassist Larry Roland. For the past decade Raphe's compositions have been a major component of FMRJE's repertoire.
In the 90's the FMRJE featured a horn section of Boston's multi-reedist Raqib Hassan, Bay Area's tenor saxophonist the late great Glenn Spearman, and the late great composer and trumpeter Raphe Malik, ( More on Raphe) alto saxophonist Tony Owens. Acoustic bassist Larry Roland of Boston was the featured bassist on most FMRJE recordings and concerts.
1997 was the year of dramatic changes for FMRJE with new ensemble members Mike Sealy on electric guitar and electric bassist Albey Balgochian. In 1998 FMRJE produced the compact disc 7 in One which features Raphe Malik on trumpet, Earl Grant Lawrence on flute, Mike Sealy on electric guitar, Tor Yochai Snyder on electric guitar, Albey Balgochian on electric bass, Martin Gil on congas, percussion and Dennis Warren on drums, timbales.
FMRJE was selected by Black Entertainment Television's Jazz Central as Jazz Discovery artist in 1997. Opened the NEXT WAVE SERIES of the Toronto Jazz Festival 1995 and closed the Toronto Jazz Festival's NEXT WAVE SERIES in 1996. In 1998 FMRJE has opened for the Jon Fishman Band at Club Toast in Burlington, Vermont. FMRJE has also performed at the Knitting Factory's Main Space, Alterknit Theater, NYC; Sarah Lawrence College and at the Texaco New York City Jazz Festival 98'.
Current configuration of FMRJE features 2 additional personnel , conga-percussionist Jose Arroyo and conga-djembi player Stephen Kemp. Keyboardist Michael Shea who has recorded and performed with FMRJE since 1992. The orginal FMRJE members guitarist Tor Snyder and conga-percussionist Martin Gil continues to be augmented by 3 year FMRJE bassist Albey Balgochian. The FMRJE band on stage and in recordings is producing music with the collective experience of over a century of drum and orchestral improvisation.
FMRJE hs produced 5 cassette albums
and 3 compact discs. All are available in compact disc
through this website.
Some thoughts about
by Stu Vandermark
Everybody talks about the jazz tradition, but FMRJE does something about it. This evolving cast of improvisers takes its inspiration from no single time and place in the jazz continuum - but from the relentless searching of John Coltrane, the soaring vision of Jimmy Lyons, the focussed passion of Archie Shepp, the hidden call of music to come, and other sources both ancient and articulate. The results is the creation of music that always is relevant to the Now.
Once during the waning months of the Reagan years it was their signature primal scream that hung in the air. In the Now of the birth of the century's last decade they took the music right off the pavement. Today the resonance of the Ensemble erases the line between the familiar and the startling.
This music of the FMRJE in mid-stride, built on the writing of Raphe Malik ( who cared enough to put aside for a time his own remarkable performing ensembles), is so sure-footed that it seems like a culmination. But because of a single essential constant - the leadership an unleashed crate-of-marbles percussion work of Dennis Warren - the music remains nothing other than what is exactly right for the moment. And that commitment to the evolving Now is what makes the music of the FMRJE durable in the truest sense of the jazz tradition.
February 14, 1996