Frank Rosaly

Frank Rosaly, a drummer and composer currently living in Chicago, is a staple of the Free Music and Free Jazz scenes. Currently active in many projects throughout Chicago, as well as New York and in Europe, Rosaly has been navigating a fine line between the vibrant improvised music, indie-rock, experimental and jazz communities for the past decade. He contributes much of his time to performing with groups too numerous to mention in full, but have included Matana Robert's Chicago Project, Rob Mazurek's Mandarin Movie, The Rempis Percussion Quartet, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten Quintet, Jeff Parker/Nels Cline Quartet, Josh Abrams Remindring, Fred Lonberg-Holm's Valentine Trio, and performances with the likes of Ken Vandermark, Michael Zerang, Von Freeman, Peter Brotzmann, Anthony Coleman, and many, many others. While not attending to his national and international touring demands, Rosaly organizes the Ratchet Series, a weekly showcase of creative music at the Skylark in Chicago, and dedicates himself to his own compositions.

Milkwork is the resulting work of one of Rosaly's solo drum ventures. Milkwork explores the process of free-improvisation with both acoustic and electronically manipulated percussion instruments to produce a wild and gorgeous panoply of sound. Rosaly has developed a personal and often visceral method and approach to drumming, whereby motion is the primary element to the creation of sound. Deliberate gestures that may or may not produce sounds often leads to surprising, exciting and raw discoveries both for the listener and for the performer. Though a large component of Milkwork is created through improvisation, the music is constructed using many compositional concepts such as the Song Form, Minimalist techniques (ala La Monte Young, Steve Reich, Terry Riley), and 'additive' or layering processes often heard in modern electronic music. Milkwork also draws inspiration from the likes of percussionists Milford Graves, Tony Buck and Billy Higgins. Using contact microphones, oscillators, effects pedals and analog synthesizers along side an acoustic drum set up, Milkwork navigates a wide sonic palette: Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Jazz and non-idiomatic grooves using unconventional techniques, dense Free-Jazz vocabulary, heavy drones and feedback, as well as a soft, subtle percussive language that evokes a varied and colorful performance. Like a pointillist painting, Milkwork utilizes seemingly spare elements of music that result into a melodious whole.

Milkwork is to be released in a limited edition vinyl version as a split release between Rosaly's own Molk Records, and Chicago-based Contraphonic, Inc. This will be Rosaly's second release for Contrpahonic, having teamed up with the label to produce Little Hell Vol I., Apathy of a Cow: Chicago's Little Hell, the first installment in the Contraphonic Chicago Sound Series. A tour of venues and universities is to follow immediately upon Milkwork's release, and will continue into the coming year, as Rosaly's touring schedule allows.

Upcoming Shows

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Downloads / URLs

Press Photo (72dpi)
Press Photo (300dpi)
"Adolescents" (mp3)

Releases on Contraphonic

  • Milkwork. CON 084. Released: 01/12/10
    Tracklisting: Adolescents / NY Prices / Four Bright Red Dots / Truce / Zoquette / NY Prices! / Calcetines / Burnshine / He Junkin'
    Alongside solo saxophone or solo trumpet recitals, solo percussion workouts are among the most curious formats for invention in this music. It's also incredibly difficult to pull off an engaging slab of unaccompanied percussion, which is why the "good" ones stand out. Chicago-based drummer Frank Rosaly--a regular collaborator with such figures as saxophonist-composer Dave Rempis, trumpeter Josh Berman and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz--has really outdone himself on Milkwork, his vinyl-only solo debut. Admittedly, while Rosaly's sideman work has long been impressive, his penchant for subtlety might make one wonder what he'd come up with left to his own devices. The answer is a one-man dialogue of the drums, referencing the compositional approaches of Andrew Cyrille, Pierre Favre and Andrea Centazzo and colliding with minimalist phase-relationships and hip-hop scuffle. The first side emphasizes acoustic playing more greatly; the stone-skipping loop of "NY Prices" a loosely-wound series of rejoinders after the dense and fuzzy "Adolescence," while "Four Bright Red Dots" is a bodily merger of Central Africa and South Asia (indeed, "Zoquete," a multi-national celebratory procession, is one of the most captivating minutes on the set). Like all but one of the discs reviewed here, Rosaly's solo playing eschews category for a grand and highly structured sense of individuality. CLIFFORD ALLEN, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

    Feature Article in PHOENIX NEW TIMES

    Feature Show Review in CULTURAL PARTNERS

    A new disc called Milkwork is due in January on Contraphonic (he'll have copies at this show), and in its neatly structured improvisations he focuses more closely on polymetric exploration, a la Milford Graves and Jerome Cooper, using his hands and feet independently to hold down as many as four different rhythmic threads-some metered, some with only a pulse, and some with neither. In the record's latter half especially, Rosaly leans on his electronic rig-a combination of contact microphones, oscillators, effects pedals, and analog synths-to trigger squiggly figures and long tones that intersect with his drumming PETER MARGASAK, CHICAGO READER

    Rosaly's drumming is easily recognizable, on record and live. It melts between the perfect complimentary player and the ultimate standout. His rhythms are unstoppable and perfectly timed. His solos are imaginative and expressive...Rosaly's MySpace currently features a few selections from the new record, and they sound brilliant. "NY Prices" kicks off with a rapid fire tapping and popping kit solo, with layers of (having seen Rosaly live, what I would guess to be) metallic bowl shuffled into the rhythm perfectly. Around two and a half minutes in, he shifts to a stronger approach, thumping away at a syncopated counter-rhythm. Eventually, the original rhythm is added in bit by bit by his feet on the cymbal pedals, his hands continuing the new rhythm. This sort of dualism is something that only strong drummers have, this ability to mix multiple rhythms with either set of appendages. CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND

    At times almost tribal, the soundscapes created by the percussionist are ones to get lost in. The sounds inspire memories of great anger and despair, but also times of pure calm and hope. It's not often that I am moved so deeply and through so many emotions by a piece of music but, as I write this, I still find myself reeling...close your eyes and see where Frank Rosaly's Milkwork takes you. I'm betting it's someplace good. SF REPORTER