blaise siwula eric plaks may 18

SIWULA / PLAKS – Creative Improvisational Duet

Saxophonist/clarinetist Blaise Siwula and pianist Eric Plaks first met in the 90s when they performed together in Joe Chonto’s Miles Davis funk-period repertory band.  After a 15-year hiatus, they reconnected through bassist John Murchison, who was at the time performing with both Siwula and Plaks.  A connection was re-established, the improvisational spark turned into a conflagration after a few rehearsals, and the first studio album by the duo was recorded in August of 2015, released on No Frills Records in 2016.

BLAISE SIWULA – Originally from Detroit, Siwula has flourished as a saxophonist, clarinetist and improvising musician in NYC since 1989. During his early years, he developed and expanded a language for spontaneous compositions with alto/tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinets and flutes.  Besides working with amazing musicians in various groups and countries Siwula has curated a free music series C.O.M.A. at ABC No-Rio on Sundays since 1998.  He also started his own label in 2008 –, in addition to having releases on CIMP, Cadence Jazz Records, Konnex, Art, Ayler Records, re:konstrucKt records and several other independent labels.  Siwula has performed in a number of states in the USA and Canada as well countries such as Great Britain, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Romania, Poland, Croatia, Morocco, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines, Portugal, Mexico, Slovenia, Denmark, South Korea and Austria.  He is a leading figure in New York’s cutting-edge creative improvised music scene.

ERIC PLAKS – A student of the entire history of jazz, from the most traditional forms to the most modern styles of creative improvisation, Plaks began his performing and recording career when he moved to Harlem in 1996.  He has appeared in various formats around New York City and the wider world, including gigs and steady engagements in venues such as Small’s, Joe’s Pub, Little Branch, The Garage, Silvana, The Shrine, The I-Beam, ABC No Rio, The Firehouse Space, and Cornelia Street Cafe, as well as appearances in London, Paris, Moscow, Jerusalem, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.  In 2010, after a successful decade-and-a-half of performing and recording with small groups, Plaks and his long-time associate, drummer Jon Panikkar, created the 15-piece Shrine Big Band, one of the city’s top collectives of improvisers, composers, and arrangers.  This ensemble appears monthly as the house band at The Shrine in Harlem, and was recently hailed in The New York City Jazz Record as a “dynamic and pleasing blast to the ear” (CD Review of The Shrine Big Band, Swamp Music, by Donald Elfman, October 2015).  In recent years, Plaks has also performed frequently with small improvising groups, often in duo or trio format, as he continues to explore the sonic possibilities of the piano and the outer limits of improvised music. His published recordings include: The Witch Man (2003), Rooftop Reveries (2004), Eric Plaks with Strings (2007), Some Ones (2008 – on Cadence Records), The Eric Plaks Five Live at Bronx Community College (2009 – on CIMPol Records), with The Shrine Big Band, Swamp Music (2012), and with Blaise Siwula, Time In (2015 – on No Frills Records).

Blaise Siwula and Eric Plaks are proud to announce the release of their new album on No Frills Records, a powerful session of improvisations recorded last summer with Plaks on piano and Siwula on tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones.  As Siwula writes in the notes to the CD:

“TIME IN” was in many respects a glorious miracle which occurred at Wombat Studios in Brooklyn, New York on Aug 26th 2015.  Blaise Siwula and Eric Plaks had worked briefly together in the late 90s in a jazz/funk band in New York and then parted ways until 2015 when through a mutual friend they were connected again.  A perfect time to try a duet recording – piano and saxophones.  These 7 spontaneous compositions have roots in a very broad spectrum of musical genres from gospel to free jazz with many twists and turns from beginning to end.

The album also features evocative artwork from the Belgian artist Blaise Dehon on the front and back covers.