Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Eisenbeil, Bruce (Jeffrey)

Eisenbeil, Bruce (Jeffrey), guitarist, composer, educator; b. Chicago, IL, 21 August 1968. A year after he was born, his family moved to Plainfield, NJ.   He has one sister (Sharon b.1964).  His mother (Nancy Marie Pfletschinger b.1931) studied piano in New York City though never performed professionally.  His father (John Carl Eisenbeil b.1929) played trumpet in a high school big band and with small dance combos.

Bruce received a guitar when he was 4 years old and learned from friends and relatives.  When he was 10 years old he received a full size guitar and private instruction.  Although Eisenbeil is primarily self-taught he did enjoy a few good teachers including Joe Pass, Howard Roberts and Joe Diorio.  He studied advanced harmonic, melodic and improvisational techniques with Dennis Sandole.  He attended workshops with:  Elliott Carter, Daniel Barenboim, George Lewis, Pat Martino, Roscoe Mitchell, Butch Morris, Evan Parker, Cecil Taylor, Charles Wourinen.  Composition studies with Gheorge Costinescu, Paul Levy, George Rochberg.

Eisenbeil began performing professionally when he was 15.  While a teenager he performed with rock cover and tribute bands in the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania area and he performed jazz with small combos at dinner theaters and social events.  He also performed in the pit band of musicals including Annie and Little Shop of Horrors.

Eisenbeil has worked all over the United States. Throughout the 1980's he performed in a variety of jazz or rhythm and blues bands. From 1985-1986 he performed with soul singer Johnny Stewert. By 1987 Eisenbeil began to devote his time to composing original music, playing jazz and exploring free improvisation.  In 1992 he received critical acclaim in Brazil, where he performed for 3 weeks as a guest soloist with the Carlos Oliva Band.  While in Brazil he was interviewed on public radio and received recognition in several prominent newspapers. 

By 1993 Eisenbeil began performing his original compositions with his own band. From 1995-1997 Eisenbeil worked with Philadelphia alto saxophonist Jimmy Stewart and his 35-year-old avant-garde sextet Kuntu.  Eisenbeil moved to New York City in 1996.  His trio, which included Rob Brown (alto sax, flute) and Lou Grassi (drums), performed at several festivals and made a 10-city tour. 

Since then, Eisenbeil has collaborated and/or recorded with some fine musicians including Cecil Taylor, David Murray, Milford Graves, Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, Micheal Manring, Ellery Eskelin, Gregg Bendian, Howard Johnson, Lukas Ligeti, Santi Debriano, Wilbur Morris, Ramsey Ameen, William Hooker, Roy Campbell Jr., Jason Kao Hwang, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Sabir Mateen, Daniel Carter, Steve Swell, Jackson Krall, India Cooke, Eddie Gale, Edgar Bateman, Matt Maneri, Badal Roy, Bob Moses, Rob Brown, Lou Grassi and many other fine musicians.

Critics have compared him not only with guitarists such as Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Django Reinhardt, Sonny Sharrock, Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Bauer and Sarnie Garrett, but also with saxophonists John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman and pianists McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor.  His ensemble writing has been associated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Revolutionary Ensemble.

Beginning in 1997 Eisenbeil was pivotal in helping to produce for release the work of guitarist Dennis Sandole whose guitar quartet, although recorded in 1958, was previously unreleased. Tapes of this session became famous after being passed around the jazz community for decades.  Eisenbeil spent 2 years researching and mastering this project from the best available source material, a cassette recording of a discarded studio acetate.  The Dennis Sandole Project (Cadence1102) which includes the guitar quartet, music for solo piano and a jazz ballet opera was finally released in 1999.

Throughout February 2001, Eisenbeil participated as the sole guitarist in Cecil Taylor's Ensemble which included over 40 participants. This was an event that Eisenbeil organized from the ground up. Painters, poets and musicians from all over the world, traveled to New York City to work in this ensemble. A rigorous rehearsal schedule culminated in a sold-out standing room only three-hour concert. A cover story in the June 2001 issue of JAZZIZ magazine documents the event. Eisenbeil's third cd for CIMP, Opium, was chosen one of the 20 best releases on 2002 by the readers and writers of Cadence magazine. 

He married Danielle George in 1997.

It Will Have Been Said is a quartet developed by Eisenbeil and features Wolfgang Fuchs (bcl, cl, sops), Damon Smith (b) and Michael Wimberly (d, perc). They performed in June 2003. In November of 2003 Eisenbeil's trio Conciousnessperformed the music of John Coltrane in New York City.  This trio features Rosi Hertlein (vln, v) and Charles Cohen (Buchla Music Easal). In late 2003 Eisenbeil toured Japan with drummer Stephen Flinn.  Having the opportunity to travel to several cities, they performed 18 concerts in 20 days. 

First and foremost Eisenbeil is a jazz musician.  He has described himself as a guitarist, improviser and composer.  His imagination and interests were stimulated by a broad array of musical styles that he heard as a boy and later sought to incorporate into a jazz sensibility.  In a totally personal way, Eisenbeil's harmonic language combines tonality, atonality, modalism, and serialism.  Eisenbeil has always refused to adopt a single system in his music.  The amalgamation of divergent conceptions of tonal formations is part of his harmonic language.

Eisenbeil's scores employ a variety of notations:  graphic, illustrative, standard.  His melodies often explore wide interval leaps reminiscent of Eric Dolphy and the John Coltrane's late period.  A few techniques Eisenbeil is prone to utilize include:  Non-retrogradeable rhythms, palindromes, ametric passages, simultaneous use of multiple tempos and tempo modulation.  Alternating meters are found in Oak Tree.  Resonant chord clusters, odd-time signatures and the combination of isorhythm and isomelos are found in Confessions.  His chord solos in Oak Tree correspond to the art of McCoy Tyner, while Woman With A Handful Of Rain is another piece loaded with references to John Coltrane's universe.

The fixing in register of a field of pitches over a comparatively long stretch of music is a phenomenon in Eisenbeil's music.  This is explored in several of his compositions including:  Caesar, Wildflowers, and Hermitage of Xzheng Xzhu.  Where Wildflowers is based on a twelve-tone scale spanning two and a half octaves, Caesar draws largely upon the resources of polytonality and polymodality by exploring, simultaneously, three distinct tonalities - E major Ionian, G minor Dorian and Bb minor Phrygian - as the basis for the themes and harmony.  Hermitage of Xzheng Xzhu is also polytonal and polymodal exploring the tonalities of E major Mixolydian, Gm Aeolian and Db major Lydian.
Eisenbeil's musical interests sometimes refer to the sphere of Western sacred music.  Melodies written with no indication of rhythm can be heard by the flute in Hermitage of Xzheng Xzhu and by Eisenbeil on Crucifixion. The desolate melodies (which correspond with non-spoken words inspired by Luke 23: 33-46) spelled by the guitar are written in Gregorian plainsong. The latitude of interpretation this leaves fosters the dramatic intensification of individual expression.

Blue Poles is named after a Jackson Pollock painting whose layering sequence Eisenbeil has followed: black, white, aluminum, orange, yellow, black and blue.   Eisenbeil developed themes and chords after defining his own color scales -- or used Oliver Messiaen's when possible.
Eisenbeil has invented a variety of techniques which he uses for a personal expression. Extreme de-tuning, string preparations, glass slide in extreme registers and hybrid picking techniques to name just a few.

Nine Wings (1997); Mural (1999); Opium (2001); Ashes (to be released in 2004)
As sideperson:
Steve Swell's Particle Data Group (2001); Stephen Flinn Trio: Keep The Meter Running (2003);  (Nine Winds); Compilations: Philadelphia Jazz Showcase Vol 1 (1996), State Of the Union 2001 (Compiled by Elliott Sharp); CIMPOSIUM Vol 3 (1998), CIMPOSIUM Vol 7  (2000), CIMPOSIUM Vol 10 (2002)
Miscellaneous recordings:
Over 300 hours of unissued tapes and CDR's of performances from ca. 1977- present with Milford Graves, Cecil Taylor, Steve Swell, Roy Campbell Jr., Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, Jim Ryan, Jack Wright, Jimmy Stewert, and far too many more to list.

Unissued films:
The Way of Cecil Taylor- documentary directed by Robert O'Haire;
-About 35 hours of video footage documenting a month long workshop with Cecil Taylor from February 2001
10.1.2002     "Hard Trance" - Solo guitar
1.22.2002     Eisenbeil, Manring, Ligetti - Live at TONIC
Eddy Rollin Ensemble - Live at the Old Office
11.12.2000     Jim Ryan Band - ABC NO RIO
6.22.2000     Eddy Rollin Ensemble- Live at the Old Office
Bruce Eisenbeil Quintet - Mellon PSFS Philadelphia Jazz Festival
6.1.1997     solo guitar
3.25.97     Eisenbeil, Brown, Grassi - Live at the Knitting Factory
12.12.1996     Eisenbeil, Harris, Ash - Live at HCL
Bruce Eisenbeil Septet - Live in Philadelphia
KUNTU - Live in Philadelphia
KUNTU - Live in Philadelphia
11.06.03  CONCIOUSNESS: The Music of John Coltrane
Rosi Hertlein (vln, v), Charles Cohen (Buchla Music Easal)

Radio broadcasts:
Live radio performances:  WKCR (11.17.2000), WFMU (4.16.2000),  KAZU (8.15.1999), Brooklyn Pirate Radio 103.9(3.13.1999), WPRB (3.2.1998)

Radio interviews:
WLIU(9.5.2003), CFFF(10.13.1999), CJSW(11.3.1999), KAZU(8.13.1999), WNUR (1998), WUSB (10.28.97)

Festival appearances:
Vision Festival, Texaco New York Jazz Festival, CMJ Music Conference, Buffalo Interprov Festival, Philadelphia Mellon Jazz Festival, Trenton Avant-garde Festival, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Doylestown Earth Day Music Festival. 

Pelusi, Michael, "Local Jazz Artist Bruce Eisenbeil Strums in Style", La Salle Collegian, Sept. 20, 1995, pp. 10.
Pitnick, Richard, "Outside In", The Coast Weekly, Monterey California, August 12, 1999, pp.
Polsney, Michael, "Gallery Concert Series To Conclude Tonight", Staten Island Advance, March 5, 1999, pp.
Rubolino, Frank, "Bruce Eisenbeil : On Record & In Conversation",
issue #11, Fall 2002,article with extensive interview.

LoConte, Vittorio, "Bruce Eisenbeil", AVANT(England), issue 20, Autumn 2001, extensive interview with photos.
Wayne, David, "A Roadshow Sit Down With Bruce Eisenbeil",
http://jazzweekly.com/interviews/eisenbeil.htm extensive interview, 2001
LoConte, Vittorio, "Bruce Eisenbeil", CADENCE, Vol.29 No.2, February 2003, extensive interview with photos.

Works That Cite Eisenbeil Extensively (omitting numerous reviews of his work):
Holtje, Steve, "New York City Free Jazz", CMJ New Music Monthly, issue #64, Dec. 1998, pp 74-75.
Jacobson, Mark,  "The Jazz Scientist - Milford Graves", New York, November 12, 2001, pp.32-36.
Panken, Ted, "The Supreme Wizard - Cecil Taylor", JAZZIZ, cover story, June 2001, vol.18 #6, pp38-45.
Works by Eisenbeil:
Dalachinsky, Steve and Silverman, Herschel (editors), Intervals - The Poems and Words of Musicians, Beehive Press and Sisyphus Press, 2000, False Repair, pp 22.
Pichevin, Aymeric (editor), Net4Music.com -online music instruction, www.net4music.com
December 2000, Single String Improv.

Contact information:
Website:  http://www.eisenbeil.com
Email: eisenbeil@aol.com
Telephone:  212-751-3456

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