IIRI: Intelligent Intuitive Rock Improvisation

Ottokar, a musical group with strong roots in Philadelphia, informs itself as “IIRI: intuitive, instrumental rock improvisation” for keyboards, guitars, and percussion. The players create music on the spot, with influences ranging from progressive rock, fusion, hard core improvised music, and jazz.

The three players are bonded in a collective spirit, in which each generously provides the other with rhythmic and melodic backgrounds for solos, as well as providing an impetus for compositional direction.  This clarity, timing, and patience in the music of the ensemble creates extended pieces of beauty and power, reaching beyond the bounds of ego and hierarchy.

The Players: 

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Jim Meneses of Philadelphia, USA, is a percussionist-composer. Since 1980 he has been active in the field of new music in both the US and in Europe.

stickmenbandJim has toured and recorded with a number of international ensembles. He is also known as an improviser, and has worked with many established players in Europe and in the US.

A versatile player, Jim is at home in a number of different musical situations. He combines his background in rock music with a sensitivity to improvisation and sound production. From his earliest recordings with the Philadelphia hard-core band The Stick Men to his recent work with Toshi Makihara, Steve Horwitz Mousetrap, Positive Nuns and composer Ernst Bechert, he finds the balance between his role as timekeeper and that of sound creator.

Jim has performed in many of the major US and European new music festivals, including New Music America (USA), Tampere Jazz Happening (SF), Groningen Jazz Marathon (NL), Mulhouse (F), Angelica (I), Victoriaville (CDN), Taktlos (CH), Grenoble (F), Moers (D), Banlieues Bleues (F), Ulrichsberg Kaleidophon (A) and others. He has toured extensively since 1985 in Eastern European countries such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Russia and Lithuania (before and after the political changes).

Jim has consistently been involved with projects that push the boundaries between rock and pop music, and the avant-garde. His recent activity includes work with: ALLOS (AUS/NL/USA), ATTILA (F/I/USA), Blast (NL/USA), Fajt / Meneses (CR/USA), KIXX (D/CH/USA), and Palinckx (NL/USA). All have CD releases. These groups combine a mix of composition, improvisation, and the use of rock music as an element in their varied musical approaches.

Jim has received commissions from Meet the Composer, fellowships and grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and has taken part in residencies at the Yellow Springs Institute and at Real Art Ways (USA). He twice attended the Hermit Foundation Sound Symposiums in Plasy, Czech Republic (Transparent Messenger 1994 and Meridian Crossings 1995).

Highlights include performances with Palinckx at the Victoriaville, Taktlos and Angelica festivals, the premiere of Nein Cow, a new work for percussion, at the Manifesta II Exhibition in Luxembourg, Solo Performance at the Venice Biennale in 1995, and his Montags-Musik-Program at Podewil in Berlin (a ten-year retrospective of his work in Europe, titled The Importance of Return Tickets).

Other performances include Music from Philadelphia at the Prague Alternativa Festival 1999, the Steve Horwitz Mousetrap plays Music of Sun Ra Tour of the Netherlands February 2001, Fuzzybunny + Toshi Makihara / Jim Meneses Duo Tour of France November 2001, and music for the theatre-pieces Moscow-Petuchki in Basel, Sportstück by Elfriede Jelinek in Mannheim, Die Familie Schroffenstein in Krefeld and Dantons Tod in Bremen in collaboration with composer Ernst Bechert.