Minus is Mark France:guitar, effects, vocals, Dave Trenkel: bass, keyboards, electronics, and Henry Franzoni: drums. Formed in 1994, our goal has been to somehow make a coherent musical voice out of the wide range of sonic possibilities available to us, and to have some fun in the process. Improvisation, polyrhythms, texture, and extended instrumental techniques are some of the areas we try to explore; we strive for an organic balance of the chaotic and the organized, sometimes melodic, sometimes assaultive, always with a deep sense of groove.. While not necessarily playing any particular genre of music, we draw on such styles as dub, free jazz, rock, heavy metal, math rock, noise, and funk. Our first several years were devoted to free improvisation, as featured on our 1995 self-titled CD. In the past few years, all three of us have brought compositions into the band, and we have worked on developing a collaborative approach to composing and arranging. The results of this approach is our second CD, Dark Lit, also on the New and Improv label, released in May 2001. Additionally, we have arranged pieces for the group from a wide range of artists, including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ennio Morricone, Funkadelic, Olivier Messian, Bill Laswell, Pantera, The Smashing Pumpkins and Black Sabbath.
Mark and Dave first played together as students in the Oregon State University Music Department, studying jazz with trumpeter and Nine Winds recording artist Rob Blakeslee. Dave and Henry first played together in the progressive rock band Das Neonderthrall, with guitarist/vocalist Eldon Hardenbrook. When Neonderthrall broke up in early 1994, Mark was the logical choice for a new collaborator. Our first CD, released on the New & Improv label, is a set of free improvisations, mixed and editted by Mark and Dave. In 1996, we played the 10th annual Seattle Improvised Music Festival, the first Olympia Experimental Music Festival, Portland's Unsound Practices new music series, and opened for the Nels Cline Trio. We also collaborated extensively with clarinettist/guitarist Ed Chang, now based in New York City and recording with the band Spin-17. We hope to eventually release our recordings with Ed. In late 1997, we began playing composed material, and have since performed with Kilgore Trout, Tim Young's Very Special Forces, Village Idiot, Thousand Pieces and NSP.
Henry Franzoni was a co-founder of Caveman Shoestore, with whom he has recorded 3 cds for the Tim/Kerr label, including a collaboration with English bassist Hugh Hopper. He was also a member of the Boodlers with Fred Chalenor on bass and Elliott Sharp on guitar and reeds, whose second CD was released on Portland's Tim/Kerr records. Henry has also been a member of the Tone Dogs, Face Ditch and Das Neonderthrall. He has long been a participant in the experimental music community of the Northwest, and has performed with Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Amy Denio and Curlew, among many others.
Dave Trenkel is an improvising musician, multimedia artist and recording engineer/producer. Past groups include Shovedevil (with Mark France and violinist Eyvind Kang), Das Neonderthrall, and the Northwest Creative Music Orchestra, with whom he performed the premier of Andrew Hill's Nikkei Symphony in 1992. As a recording engineer and producer, he has worked on releases by the Tone Sharks, The Rob Blakeslee Quartet, The Arrieu Wind Quintet, and many others.
In addition to Minus,Mark France performed regularly around the Northwest as a member of Thousand Pieces, whose CD "Matador's Mistake" was released on the Small Block label. He plays regularly in Rob Blakeslee's sextet, performs solo on classical guitar, and is on several recordings by singer/songwriter Aiko Shimada. His collaborative trio Tricycle performed a tribute to Albert Ayler as part of the Oregon State University Music Department's 1995 Winter Music Festival. He currently teaches guitar at Oregon State University, as well as a full schedule of private students.
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