Friday, May 18, 2007

MicrotonalObit: Rod Poole

We've just been alerted by Karl T to the heartbreaking, pointless death of Rod Poole, Oxford guitarist. He was stabbed to death in the car park of a Hollywood restaurant, the LA Times reports:

The incident occurred about 9:45 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of Mel's Drive-In in the 1600 block of Highland Avenue. Officers answered a call of an assault with a deadly weapon and found Roderick Poole, 45, with multiple stab wounds. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died at 10:06 p.m.

It appears that the husband and wife who have been arrested and charged with Rod's murder had nearly run him over; Poole's remonstrations with them had escalted into an argument which ended in the stabbing. The couple, Michael and Angela Sheridan, are being held in jail with bail set at a million dollars per head.

Poole was born in Oxford in 1962, finding his first musical feet in the Oxford Improvisors' Cooperative in the early 1980s. The group, of which he was a founder memeber, promoted gigs in the city featuring the earlier generation of free improvisers, with members taking the chance to offer support for them.

It was during his time with the co-operative that he developed a solid friendship with Shake Appeal, the band who would eventually transmogrify into Swervedriver.

In 1989, Poole relocated from the City of Dreaming Spires to the City of Angels, and in his new home Poole carved himself out a career as one of the very few musicians for whom the term "genre-defying" is apt rather than an empty cliche. Ink Blot Magazine attempted an explanation:
Rod Poole uses just intonation, a tuning system with different underlying mathematical relationships from conventional western turning, to coax overtone-rich sounds from his guitar. His music doesn't progress along a linear melodic path, but it also avoids the pronounced discontinuity characteristic to free improvisation. Instead, it focuses on gradually evolving changes in timbre and texture. Poole plucks intricate figures which become surrounded by an aura of ringing overtones; as his finger-picked patterns change, that aura shifts and shimmers like St. Elmo's Fire around a ship's mast. The effect is a little like that achieved by an Indonesian gamelan orchestra, but Poole does it with one guitar.

Talking to LA Weekly, Poole came up with a slightly simpler description of what he did:
“I just look at it as... improvised acoustic-guitar music,” he says, weighing each word. “Tuned, improvised acoustic- guitar music”

His body of recorded work isn't the widest, but his enthusiasm and skill made him one of the key figures in LA's mainly-underground microtonal movement. Beyond his solo work, Poole also played in two bands: Voice of the Bowed Guitar and the Acoustic Guitar Trio.


Anonymous said...

Roderick, or should I say Wodewick:

Well, mate, it's time to fare thee well, adieu, so long, and all the best to you. It's hard to believe that you've flown the coop, it seems like you were just here, chuckling over the Derek & Clive send up of Fireball XL5.
Thanks for all the good memories: S.H.A.D.O. Dinky toys, burning the chalice with Sun Ra's Arkestra, your vigorous defence of vinyl versus digital, you ringing me up @ KPFK @ 330am, thanking me for playing "Yoo Doo Right" by Can, while you were zooming around on the freeway system in your Dodge Colt.

I'm still glad that you liked my shepherd's pie so much, you came back for more. Thanks for letting me record you, back in the old days with King Dahl, Lynn Johnston, and Tim Crockett. Many, many thanks for the unreleased AMM recordings. I'm honoured to have learned from you about just intonation, microtonality, and Pythagoras. Thanks for your humourous observations about West Los Angeles, New York City, and Poole, Dorset. Remember when we went to Berkeley to see Derek Bailey? And what happened to all those photos that I took of the two of you, together, two geezers enjoying the California sunshine. Thanks for all your expressions, like "Pretty Damn Good", or PDG, for short.

Thanks for tolerating my short-lived foray into electro-acoustic sound with David Poyourow. Thanks for turning me on to Joseph Spence, from the Bahamas. And thanks for sharing all the cups of tea together.

Remember when we found those ancient unreleased movie posters for Rainbow Bridge?

All The Best.
Brucie Watusi

Unknown said...

Anonymous said...

this husband and wife murdering team should be shot on live national tv.

two wrongs DO make a right...

Anonymous said...

Tribute to Rod Poole
By Brent Bloom

My fondest memories of Rod Poole were back in the music business days of Hollywood, California. I was living at 801 N Las Palmas in Waring Manor and eventually met Rod in the late 90s, who lived downstairs. We became friends that shared optimater, incense, and hours of very late night music in my apartment upstairs. We listened to “Jump on Top of Me, Baby” by the Stones many of times, and Rod would always say, “That is the real band!” The time spent listening was a great experience because Rod showed me so many new historical perspectives of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, The Flying Burrito Brothers/Gram Parsons, Sun Ra, true old school Ska/Reggae (Lee Perry), Prince Buster, John Fahey, Leo Kotke—simply 6- and 12-string guitar!

I was always knocking on his door, seeing him in his plush blue robe with the kettle always going off, food being prepared or the empty can of baked beans, and talking and listening to “Live at Leeds” – vinyl versus new extensions on CD! The days of Rhino Records, Saturday vinyl sales, or conquering Aarons! Those days are memories that a monetary state will never understand, and we barely got by, but money could be found for music and fine German malt liquor beer. Seeing him perform at that old, tiny Hollywood theatre or in his apartment –we both had problems dealing with the outside noise of Las Palmas and Waring. Discussing Hendrix, Zeppelin, Zappa, the blues in general, was amazing. As a friend, Rob helped me survive in Hollywood when I was preparing to leave the music business back before MP3, downloading, early DVD. Rod was there for me, and all that was on our brains was vinyl, books, and historical perspectives of all avenues!

One of the last people I said goodbye to was Rod—we drank a few beers on top of Waring Manor and my road was back home. It has been nine years since the departure, but our friendship continued on a phone level that I will deeply miss. My regret is that the last time we talked was in September, when I returned from a Blues festival in Grafton, Wisconsin. Paramount recorded some historical 78rpm discs there. We conversed for awhile and, as friends, always shared stories together.

A week before Rod’s death, Les Paul was in his hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Now I regret not sharing this experience with Rod. Rod, you will be greatly missed by the world because you were an original in a not-so-original place called Hollywood. To have shared so many conversations together on the lost land line phone concept of meaningful exchange of ideas, history, philosophy, and life in general will be a void for many worldwide!

And I can’t forget our vinyl outings of “Exile on Main Street” many a late night, and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac historical film on VHS. Those guys are loaded – no real playing, no real vocals – Hollywood. Not to mention Rainbow Bridge and sharing my dad’s copy of “The Monterey Pops Festival Program”, and “Gimme Shelter” (they hit Marty).

Garcia responds, “Bummer, man!”

Your laugh,

I raise my wine glass to a true original that made so much happen. You will be missed by me.

Cheers, mate,

Your friend,

Anonymous said...

i do feel sorry for what happen to Mr. Poole is hard to underatand how can someone end, another persons life. Having the couple view on national television or public would not do anything better. It does not bring Mr. Poole back, lets let justice do it's work and Mr. Poole may your rest in peace. and to his wife I understand where you stand now i recently lost my father over similar to your story and view how my mother felt and feels after the incident.

Post a comment

As a general rule, posts will only be deleted if they reek of spam.