by Aaron Lumley

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solo double bass improvisations by Aaron Lumley
available in vinyl and digital formats
release fall 2012

On Aaron Lumley's “Wilderness”:

The double bass is an enormous territory—especially when you’re holding onto the damn thing and hoping to find something to play. The challenge to the double bass composer, or improviser, is the challenge of reconciling all the high low & order of the vast selection of landscapes that can be travelled within the instrument’s range. No wonder then, that Aaron Lumley calls his solo record “Wilderness” and that his titles conjure trees and rivers, hawks and coyotes, and from the depths of our wilds, even the Sasquatch (called here by its old European name, woodwose).

And something else natural—Lumley uses gut strings on his bass, a clear instance of apprehending the future by taking a step back. For years gut strings were all there were, and the introduction of steel strings in the 1950s was revolutionary. With smaller vibration radius, steel strings could be set closer to the fingerboard, making them easier to control. Their tone was more clear and more clean than that of gut strings. Along with new methods of amplification, they revolutionized acoustic bass playing. Double bassists began to play with the facility, and sometimes the mentality, of guitarists.

Gut strings on the other hand, are richly fibred and textured and so is their sound. But they are not so consistent in diameter and density throughout their length; each string is more of an individual. Steel strings are molded to obedience, gut strings are imperfect creatures and they resist control. To make the same note as a steel string, they sing on a wider vibrating radius, which means that once you strike a note on the string, when your finger strikes the next, the string may not be quite there. You have to accommodate yourself as a player to the personality of the string.

Like the wilderness itself such a creature operates with a sort of benevolent indifference that can turn cantankerous. With Lumley’s improvisations, the slippery dance between personality and control has evolved into a sexy and dynamic dialogue between player and instrument. This voyage is not a voyage of plunder to see who can go the farthest and come back with the most; to prove they can play higher or faster. It is a search for new mysteries that somehow, no one else has ever uncovered, that in their hearing enriches one’s everyday life. It is a territory explored by Mingus, Philips, Guy, Favors, Rabbath, Kowald, Parker, Léandre, Holland, the Carters (Kent and Ron) and many others. But in this era when we need, more than ever, to reconcile with the natural world, with this recording Lumley joins the ranks of those explorers of that wilderness—like them he returns from it with new mysteries that somehow, no one else has ever uncovered.

David Lee – bassist and author of “Battle of the Five Spot: Ornette Coleman and the New York jazz Field”


released September 25, 2012

music by Aaron Lumley, socan, 2012
recorded and mixed by James Anderson
lacquer-master by Stan Ricker
cover art by Liam Donald Parker
photography by Matthew Doc Dunn
screenprinted covers by Jacob Horwood



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Aaron Lumley Montréal, Québec

Aaron Lumley is an exploratory contrabassist and improvising musician. Lumley's solo bass music has been called "no-holds- barred, intense improvisation" (Glenn Hall, Exclaim) that "reaches lonesome heights of the highest mystic calibre" (Aaron Levin, Weird Canada). ... more

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