We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/27/2010
To replay, refresh page. Musicians in this clip: Matthew Montfort (fretless guitar), Bui Huu Nhut (dan bau), Tom Nunn/David Michalak (scatch boxes), Gretchen Jude (photo koto), Terry Berlier (percussion ball).
Matthew Montfort, guitarist and bandleader of the pioneering world fusion music group Ancient Future, was interviewed and performed on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC on Friday, September 24th, 2010. Kent Jones, the Rachel Maddow Show's pop-culturist, was in San Francisco September 23rd and 24th to cover the opening of the Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival. Matthew Montfort kicked off the festival by showcasing his unusual guitars: the Godin Glissentar, an 11 string fretless guitar, and the scalloped fretboard guitar, a special modified instrument able to produce ornaments characteristic of the sitar.
The “Just Enough” with Kent Jones segment airs during the last few minutes of the Rachel Maddow Show and aims to provide viewers with just enough pop culture news. During the sound check for the festival, Kent Jones interviewed the musicians and played many of the instruments himself. After sound check, Kent Jones and his cameraman videotaped the entire opening night of the festival.
The September 24th, 2010 “Just Enough” segment features Kent Jones trying out some of the unusual instruments at sound check along with interviews with Matthew Montfort and some of the other Music for People and Thingamajig Festival performers. Montfort was asked to demonstrate the unique musical features of the Godin Glissentar.
A selection from Matthew Montfort's Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival performance was the only music from the festival that was featured on the Rachel Maddow show. Montfort performed his piece, “Purple Raga,” from his Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar recording, but in this unusual arrangement, he was accompanied at the end by Bui Huu Nhut, a master of the dan bau, a traditional Vietnamese single string instrument with an indigenous version of a whammy bar. Bui Huu Nhut is well known to fans of Ancient Future from his performance of “Jah Nam” on Ancient Future's Asian Fusion recording, which was also featured on the Putumayo sampler, Asian Lounge. The two performed a spontaneous improvisation based on the guitar solo section of “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix. They received a standing ovation from the festival audience.
5 Page Guitar Player Magazine/GuitarPlayer.com Media Report (1.4 MB):
For those interested in learning more about Montfort's “Purple Raga” piece, the December 2009 collectible commemorative Les Paul issue of Guitar Player Magazine includes a full page feature with a photo of Matthew Montfort superimposed over psychedelic artwork portraying Jimi Hendrix and an interview with Montfort about the scalloped fretboard guitar, Indian raga, and his thoughts about the relationship of Indian raga to the music of Jimi Hendrix. The story includes a link to a GuitarPlayer.com online lesson created by Matthew Montfort, entitled “The Music of Jimi Hendrix Applied to Indian Raga,” which explains the musical concepts behind the “Purple Raga” track on Montfort's debut solo CD, Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar.
GuitarPlayer.com is hosting a video of Matthew Montfort performing his “Purple Raga” composition live at Ancient Future's 30th Anniversary Concert on a Godin Glissentar, the 11 string fretless guitar endorsed by Montfort. It is the first recording available of Montfort performing on the Glissentar.
Hi-Res Photo of Matthew Montfort by Julie Marten (2 MB, 300 dpi 4.3 x 6.5):
As leader of the world music group Ancient Future, Matthew Montfort has devoted himself to the scalloped fretboard guitar since 1978. He spent years of study with some of the world's best musicians, including North Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and vina master K.S. Subramanian, with whom he did an intensive study of South Indian note-bending techniques. He has performed concerts worldwide, from the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra in Spain to the Festival of India in Mumbai. He has worked with many world music legends, including tabla phenomenons Zakir Hussain and Swapan Chaudhuri, sitar master Pandit Habib Khan, Carnatic saxophone legend Dr. Kadri Gopalnath, and Chinese zither master Zhao Hui.
The debut recording by Ancient Future leader Matthew Montfort showcases his pioneering work on the scalloped fretboard guitar, a special modified instrument able to produce ornaments characteristic of the sitar.
“This unusual guitar album brings together world instruments to complement the scalloped fretboard guitar. Starting with 'Gauri the Golden,' an improvisational piece drawing heavily on Indian raga, this is an intriguing collection of the resulting compositions. In fact, the entire CD is based on improvisation and includes one tune with an ancient Celtic theme, which Montfort suggests has many parallels 'to the Vedic tradition.' I must admit that sometimes ragas played by guitar players seem to wander on forever, changing a note here and there and weaving a kind of slow, hypnotic journey. However, this guitar work is stunning, intricate and wonderfully melodic. If you are looking for good listening and something different for your CD shelf, this is it. But don’t go carving up your fretboard until you've really figured this out.” — J.W. McClure, from review of Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar, VICTORY REVIEW ACOUSTIC MUSIC MAGAZINE, April, 2010.
Bui Huu Nhut (pronounced “buoy who newt”) is a leading performer on the dan bau, an instrument of purely Vietnamese origin. Its single string is stretched over a long box, attached to a tuning peg at one end, and to a flexible rod (which holds a resonating gourd) at the other. Its sound is said to “find its way into the secret places of the soul.” A native of Saigon, Mr. Bui has lived in the U.S. since 1989. He performs in traditional Vietnamese groups and with several ensemble variations of Ancient Future, including the Asian Fusion Dance Ensemble Program.
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Rachel Maddow: So here's the bad news. On the day that we find out that a fist fight broke out in the stands between a man and two women no less, while Sharron Angle was speaking at a candidate forum in Nevada, on the day that Stephen Colbert braids performance art and politics together so tightly that he almost pops immigration reform out of Congress with the sheer pressure of his wit, on the day we actually get in the mail the stink mailer from the crazy Carl for Governor campaign in New York, the piece of direct mail scented with the smell of land fill, on the day when we most need a man of Kent Jones' talents to make sense of the world around us, Kent is on vacation. That's the bad news. We need him. He's gone. The good news is that it turns out that Kent does some freaky crazy weird stuff on vacation and then pops into a studio to tell us about it. Kent, did you seriously do what I heard you did today?
Kent Jones: Ah, well, I mean this depends on what you think it is that I “did” today. I'm in San Francisco and I think that I helped the people of San Francisco advance music to the next level.
Rachel Maddow: OK.
Kent Jones: That's what I think I was doing today. So, may I present the Festival of Music for People and Thingamajigs.
(Ancient Future musicians Matthew Montfort and Bui Huu Nhut perform on fretless guitar and dan bau)
Kent Jones: This is a guitar, but not like one we know. Tell me about this.
Matthew Montfort: Right, this guitar actually has no frets on it. And so it's basically a combination of an oud and a guitar.
Kent Jones: You told me that these are skatch boxes. What is that?
Tom Nunn: Skatch box is a kind of instrument that comes out of a technique called skatching. And skatching is basically taking a shaped comb and scraping it across a surface.
(Tom Nunn and David Michalak playing their scatch boxes)
Kent Jones: And that's what it sounds like inside my head.
Gretchen Jude: This is a koto, a traditional Japanese instrument. And this is a photo koto. They react to light in a way you will hear when I play.
Kent Jones: Could you play a little bit for me, please?
Gretchen Jude: Of course. Actually, your cameraman can play?
Kent Jones: What? How does that work?
Gretchen Jude: OK. The light comes in here. Ready?
(Sound of photo koto reacting to the camera light)
Kent Jones: That was my cameraman playing the photo koto. It's a first.
Terry Berlier: This one is used from recycled pan lids and this is called the percussion ball. Each hole has a different length tube in it. So the longest one is about ten feet long. And so the length of the tube determines the pitch or the note you're getting.
Kent Jones: Thank you, good night!
Rachel Maddow: Kent, if you come back to the office without that thing, that makes noise when you hit it with light, I'll be very angry.
Kent Jones: I'm going to need a bigger desk, I'm just saying right now.
Rachel Maddow: And also maybe a larger overhead compartment for the flight home...but...
Kent Jones: That goes without saying.
Rachel Maddow: Thank you, Kent. Happy vacation.
Kent Jones: Thank you.