Ned Rothenberg and Samm Bennett have a long history of collaboration, most notably in the seminal ‘downtown’ band of the late 1980s, Semantics, along with guitarist Elliott Sharp. In 1996 Bennett relocated from New York City to Tokyo, where he works with some of Japan’s leading musicians. As Rothenberg is a frequent visitor and performer on the Tokyo scene, they have joined with guitarist (and leader of the acclaimed improvising power trio Altered States) Uchihashi Kazuhisa to form R. U. B. – and with a bit of wordplay they offer their premier release Are You Be.
R. U. B. is the cooperative trio of Ned Rothenberg, Uchihashi Kazuhisa, and Samm Bennett and their cleverly titled Are You Be is a tour de force sonic exploration of rhythm and tonality notable for the many different soundscapes it traverses. Rothenberg’s formidable technical skills and imaginative improvisational abilities on alto saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet have grown even more impressive since his excellent early solo expositions on Lumina records and his sound has matured to become both darker and more expressive. Bennett is a veteran of the downtown scene who moved to Japan several years ago. The symbiotic relationship between Bennett’s percussion and electronics is central to the group’s expansive nature. He is a very tonally aware drummer and extremely rhythmic in his use of electronics, which sound alternately earthy and ethereal. Japanese guitarist Kazuhisa, who has worked with Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser, as well as Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins and Hans Reichel, possesses a multifaceted approach to his instrument that reflects the influences of these collaborators within his own truly personal style, which meshes perfectly with his current colleagues. The 13-track disc consists of ten tight terse group improvisations and one trio composition by each member of the group. The record remains interesting by seamlessly segueing through a varied program of vastly different sounding tracks that range from minimalist textural tapestries to rocking psychedelica to hard grooving electric jazz reminiscent of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, Arthur Blythe’s Lenox Avenue Breakdown and Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society. Maybe others would be better able to describe the music on the disc to those who regularly listen to this type of music and relate it to its traditon. I can only admit how surprisingly satisfying I found the new-to-me music of this very fine band. -Russ Musto, All About Jazz
«a real mind-stretcher. » - Greg Burk, LA Reader
Samm Bennett is a creator of electronic music, drummer and percussionist. He has long maintained an interest in sampling and electronic instruments, and has often combined electronics with his drum and percussion playing in a wide range of musical settings. Much of his work is characterized by propulsive, multi-directional rhythm and a love of rich and varied sonic textures. He has recorded and performed with the groups BOSHO, SEMANTICS, CARBON, DOUBLE BAND, George Cartwright’s CURLEW, Umezu Kazutoki’s FIRST DESERTER (with Wayne Horvitz, Marc Ribot and Tom Cora), John Zorn’s «HWANG CHIN-EE», Okinawan singer/sanshin player Daiku Tetsuhiro, singer HACO, country-blues unit the KROPOTKINS, noise-guitar legend Haino Keiji, Korean hojok master and shaman Kim Suk Chul, as well as with his own group CHUNK. Bennett’s main ongoing project is SKIST, a duo with singer and electronic sound creator Haruna Ito. SKIST tracks have appeared on compilations from labels such as Mille Plateaux, FatCat and Luaka Bop, and their first full length CD «Ellipsis» was released in Japan in September 2002 on their own POLARITY label.
Very active in the field of improvised music over the years, Bennett has performed and recorded with players including Eugene Chadbourne, shamisen virtuoso Tanaka Yumiko, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsch, ondes-martenot master Harada Takashi, Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Marclay and many others. He was co-founder, along with the late Tom Cora, of the group THIRD PERSON, an improvising trio which always featured a different guest member.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Bennett has lived in Boston, Massachusetts, Benin City, Nigeria, Brussels, Belgium and Brooklyn, New York, before moving in 1996 to Tokyo, where he now resides >
Uchihashi Kazuhisa was born in Osaka, Japan in 1959. He picked up the guitar at the age of twelve, and through his teenage years played in rock and pop bands, later becoming involved in jazz. Since 1983 he has devoted himself intensively to free improvised music. With a keen interest in sound, he has experimented extensively with many different kinds of machines and sound-devices to expand the sonic possibilities of the electric guitar. In addition to guitar, Uchihashi also performs regularly on the daxophone, an utterly unique instrument (invented by Hans Reichel) consisting of variously shaped pieces of wood which are bowed or struck He has worked with improvisers Fred Frith, Tom Cora, Barre Phillips, Kang Tae Hwan, Peter Brotzman, Derek Bailey, Steve Beresford, Jon Rose, Zeena Parkins, Elliott Sharp, Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser, Chris Cutler, Hans Reichel, Charles Hayward, Han Bennink, Shelley Hirsch, GURU GURU and many others. For twelve years he has been leader of the rock-oriented improvising trio ALTERED STATES. He has composed music for film and dance, and has been the sole musical director and composer for the noted Japanese theatre group ISHINHA for more than 15 years. Since 1995 he has directed the monthly New Music Action Workshop for young improvisers in Kobe, a project he now continues in Tokyo and in other cities across Japan. He is also the organizer of the annual new music event Festival Beyond Innocence (FBI), started in Kobe in 1996 and now taking place in Osaka..