Having issued some of the craziest solo LPs of the 1960s and early 1970s, Ron Geesin (born 1943) eventually released this studio recording of a continuous piano recital in two parts on his own label Headrest in 1975 (aka Headscope). During his career, Ron Geesin moved effortlessly from jazz to folk, from symphonic prog to library music, from children’s record to electronic, non-music endeavors. ‘Patruns’ evokes echoes of Scott Joplin’s piano rags as well as Cornelius Cardew’s Thalmann Variations, and I’d say Geesin shares similar influences with Conlon Nancarrow, i.e. Art Tatum, Boogie-Woogie and Howard Skempton. Indeed, Geesin started his professional carreer as a dixieland pianist with The Original Downtown Syncopators, as this mindblowing 1962 video demonstrates.
“I have recorded this album so that you are in the piano, particularly if you are a headphonatic! . . . There will be no sheet music of this work since I have ‘written’ it direct onto magnetic tape” (from liner notes). Somewhere betwixt Scott Joplin‘s Mapple Leaf Rag (1899) and Frederic Rzewski‘s The People United Will Never Be Defeated (1976), the music on Patruns evolves from repetitive, robust staccatos producing minute pitch variations, to meditative, cubist keyboard explorations. The tracks composing these semi-improvisations cue into each other without pause. Some strategies are similar to Systems Music, where a pre-conceived idea will produce the music (playing one octave only, playing white keys only, etc).
Ron Geesin ‘Patruns’ LP
Side 1 (20:35)
Side 2 (20:17)
Total time 40:52
LP released by Headrest, UK, 1975
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Discography until 1975:
1960s member of dixieland band The Original Downtown Syncopators
1967 A Raise of Eyebrows LP, Transatlantic [+]
1970 Music From the Body, w/ Roger Waters, Harvest
1970 Sound-work for the British pavilion at the Osaka world fair
1971 produced ‘Songs for a Gentle Man’ by Bridget St John
1972 Electrosound, Vols. 1 LP, KPM (reissued by Glo-Spot, UK, 2008) [+]
1973 As He Stands, LP, Headrest/Headscope [+]
1974 Fallables, collection of writings, Headscope
1974 Smudge The Snail, 7”, Good Reading Limited (children record) [+]
2008 Biting The Hand – BBC Radio Broadcasts 1969-1975, CD, Hux Records
Above: “To Roger Waters Wherever You Are”,
from As He Stands LP, 1973