|Profile: Ben Neill|
Trumpeter Ben Neill successfully bridges the gap between Ambient Music and the Avant-Garde, further blurring aesthetic boundaries with the development of his Mutantrumpet - a revolutionary electro-acoustic hybrid of conventional trumpet and synthesized sound.
A native of North Carolina and a product of classical training, Neill relocated to New York City during the mid-'80s, immersing himself in the downtown experimental music scene. Increasingly fascinated with minimalism, he studied under the legendary La Monte Young and with the aid of synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog designed the first Mutantrumpet - an instrument fit with three bells, six valves, a trombone slide and an analog processing system which allows Neill to create any number of open, muted and electronic sounds.
Through his use of interactive computer technologies, Ben Neill creates a unique musical and visual universe, melding the worlds of Electronic Music, jazz, Pop Culture and visual media. Neill has recorded seven CDs of his music on the Six Degrees, Verve, Astralwerks, New Tone and Ear-Rational labels.
In Neill's performance, four linked computers form a "Powerbook Band" that merges his three-belled, computer interfaced Mutantrumpet with live MIDI controlled digital video. Neill literally plays the moving pictures to create "video remixes" as he blows life into real-time and recorded video, making the images an extension of his electrified horn.
Ben Neill has designed a new version of his unique electro-acoustic instrument, the Mutantrumpet. Working with engineers and designers in New York and Amsterdam, Neill has greatly updated the electronic capabilities of his instrument.
The Mutantrumpet has been evolving since the mid-1980's when Neill originally worked with synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog to design its first electronic interface. In 1992 Neill made the instrument fully computer interactive through a residency at the Steim studios in Amsterdam, a research and development lab for new instruments. The new Mutantrumpet uses technologies from Steim as well as a new ergonomic design which now includes 8 continuous MIDI controllers and 8 momentary MIDI controllers in addition to the acoustic note and volume control from the instrument's natural sound. The instrument connects directly to the computer via USB.
Ben Neill has performed music extensively in a wide variety of international settings, including the Cite de la Musique France, Berlin Love Parade Germany, Spoleto Festival Italy, Bang on a Can festival, ICA London, Istanbul Jazz Festival Turkey the Edinburgh Flux Festival UK, Cloudwatch and The Gatherings Concert Series to name a few.
Neill is also active as a digital installation artist. His collaborative works have been exhibited in museums and major galleries including Sandra Gering Gallery New York, Paula Cooper Gallery New York, Wellcome Gallery London and the Hayden Planetarium New York.
Neill studied at Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in 1987. He studied composition with minimalist composer La Monte Young, and has collaborated with numerous other composers and musicians including (rock band Helmet's) Page Hamilton, Nicolas Collins, David Behrman, John Cale and DJ Spooky. Neill was the Music Curator of The Kitchen in New York City from 1992-1998.
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Electronic Jazz and Dub Futurist Ben Neill returns to The Gatherings Concert Series in Philadelphia for a multi-media performance within the remarkable setting of St. Mary's Hamilton Village on Saturday 16 May 2009.