RTV: Jim Staley

Release Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This RTV episode features Jim Staley improvising on his trombone, demonstrating the mastery of his extended techniques.

Staley’s virtuoso performance opens with a fiery bravura passage on trombone, which includes tones that are growling, splattered, and rapidly bursting. By way of contrast, Staley then plays in a sweet and often humorous high register, producing pedal tones that are given speech-like inflections through subtle hand manipulations of the mute. A didgeridoo solo (on an instrument with exquisitely ornamented designs) follows. Staley exhibits the mastery of a circular breathing technique as he evokes meditative overtone sweeps from the low droning fundamental. His final trombone solo quickly unfolds an number of new techniques including multiple tone-within-tone tonguings, beat frequency modulations, fast angular register skips, and the shaping of extended interval runs through complex valve and lip manipulations. In his interview, Staley discusses his improvisational approaches and motivations, his early years in an army band in Berlin, the creative relationship among the Tone Road Ramblers, and his support of the works of many other artists and musicians over the past 20 years.

Performance date: 06/09/2004
Episode release date: 05/12/2010
Host: Phoebe Legere


Composer and trombonist, Jim Staley is renowned for his groundbreaking solo performances and collaborations with music creators such as Fred Frith, Tom Cora, Morgan Powell, David Weinstein, Takehisa Kosugi, Ikue Mori, Robin Holcomb, and many others. He has worked with many choreographers (Suzie Brown, Pooh Kaye, Debra Loewen, Sally Silvers and others) and been a member of several creative music ensembles including Psychological Operations, Elliott SharpÌs Carbon, The Tone Road Ramblers, groups headed by Lenny Pickett and John Zorn, the Slide Hampton Jazz Ensemble, and the New York ComposerÌs Orchestra. Staley was a founding member of Roulette Intermedium Inc., the director of its performance series since 1978, and he is the producer of the Roulette TV series.