With east London’s Big Creative Academy supporting Orchestra of Samples with the use of their recording studios, we organised a filming and recording session with Saul Eisenberg aka The Junk Orchestra.  From performing, teaching and workshopping to appearing on numerous television shows, The Junk Orchestra rock ‘n’ recycle a huge collection of re-invented objects all salvaged from “the industries of the sprawling metropolis” as he puts it!

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Having set-up recording sessions with both multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw and duduk player Tigran Aleksanyan, both introduced us to their fellow musician friend Ian Blake.  A talented composer and producer himself, Ian plays woodwinds, keyboards and bass, and we recorded him improvising on bass clarinet and soprano sax.

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We were incredibly pleased to be introduced to British multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw, who plays a wonderful range of non-mainstream instruments, and we recorded him playing three: a 74-stringed electrified chord zither; then a fujara (a nearly 2 metre long 3-hole overtone vertical whistle from central Slovakia); and a marovantele (a double sided 44-stringed hybrid of Finnish kantele and Madagascan marovany which Andrew designed himself).

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Continuing with our 2021 UK recordings, particularly looking for lesser known instruments, we read about Armenian duduk player Tigran Aleksanyan, so decided to get in touch.  He’s one of few people in the UK who’s a master of the ancient Armenian instrument, which is a double reeded oboe-like woodwind hollowed out of apricot wood; it has a beautifully melancholic sound. We also recorded him playing pku, the single-reeded horn.

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As pandemic lockdowns around the world began to ease and outdoor events began to slowly happen, one area of London decided to have a whole weekend of online only events, celebrating the London Borough of Newham and its incredible cultural diversity for audiences to watch worldwide. From 14 – 16 August 2020, Newham Unlocked streamed a live programme of arts and music, including circus, cabaret and theatre performances.

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Last week, during our current tour, we played a wonderful date in the small UK town of Borden at their Phoenix Arts Centre, where rapper Matt Malone and long-time collaborator and percussionist Paul Gunter joined us for the performance.  After rehearsals we took the opportunity to record a session with Paul, who’s played so many times with us but still hadn’t been recorded for sampling!

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