Henry Jacobs

The Weird Wide World Of Henry Jacobs CD/DVD


CD/DVD


Henry Jacobs is a sound artist and improviser par excellence. His influential recordings as well as collaborative projects resonate with an irreverent sense of humor and a love for musics of the world. From the early 1950s into the 1970s, Jacobs experimented with tape music, staged the early surround sound and visual spectacle Vortex (with artist Jordan Belson), and developed an array of absurd characters that would pop up as crank callers, relaxation coaches, or upside-down smiling instructors. A contemporary of Ken Nordine and Lenny Bruce, Jacobs honed an individual style that was droll and laid-back but winked at you at the same time. On his recordings for Folkways, World Pacific, and Fantasy, as well as on his private label MEA, the world of Jacobs is an audio collage that embraces many cultures and sensibilities. This CD/DVD collection pays homage to Jacobs’ creative play, presenting recovered and restored audio as well as rare animated films that will give you a taste of this man’s special talents.

Wonderful material. This CD animated brain cells that have been dormant for almost 40 years! Unquestionably, I was ripe for Henry Jacobs when I heard him back in 1962, having already become hooked on musique
concrête in the mid-fifties, stretching and recombining sounds with my Revere tape recorder. When George Lucas and I were making
THX1138, I wrote a scene that took its inspiration from some of Henry's work, and then we were lucky enough to actually get him to do the improv for the film itself. I'm sure much of what I have been doing in film sound since the mid-sixties has had a Jacobean twist to it.

Walter Murch
Oscar-Winning Film and Sound Editor


TAPESTORY
During a house renovation in Mill Valley a couple of years ago, a stash of reel-to-reel tapes and 45s was discovered beneath the floorboards. Caked in grime, the collection found its way to nearby resident Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto, whose own large sound archive included several records released by the owner of the collection: Henry Jacobs. Remarkably preserved for all the exposure to the elements, the more than eighty tapes chronicle wild collaborations with close friend and theologian Alan Watts, San Francisco soundscapes, riffs with Ken Nordine, fictitious radio spots, warped tabla beats, feedback mayhem, hipster parodies, and goof conversations. In collaboration with Henry Jacobs, Jack Dangers has selected, restored, sequenced and mastered this audio stew into a seamless travelogue. Equipped with a reel-to-reel, a microphone, and insatiable curiosity, Jacobs created a breathtakingly original approach that deserves to be appreciated by a much wider audience.

Concerning the Henry Jacobs’ archival tapes, the several of them found underneath Henry’s old house in Mill Valley, you should know that Sandy, which is Henry’s nick name, has tapes hidden away in many places, usually along long stretches of inaccessible beaches, hence his nick name. The fact that this set of tapes was found under one of his houses and not along a long beach is a deviation from the norm, one that history will thank you for.

Ken Nordine
Father of Word Jazz

THE FINE ART OF GOOFING OFF
In 1972, San Francisco public television station KQED aired the first of three half-hour programs devoted to leisure titled The Fine Art of Goofing Off. Combining various animation techniques — stop-action photography, claymation, collage, cut-outs, and continuous drawing — this unique series celebrated pointless activity, dancing between the silly and the philosophical with free-associative abandon.

With few if any creative limits set by the station, the films reveal a fresh, imaginative collaboration between animator Bob McClay, Henry Jacobs, and producer Chris Koch. Included are contributions from Alan Watts, author George Leonard, psychedelic poster artist Victor Moscoso, filmmaker Jordan Belson, humorist Woody Leifer, as well as members of the legendary San Francisco troupe and Second City antecedant, The Committee. Amazingly, these three films were rescued by McClay on their way to the dumpster about 30 years ago! Thanks to him, they’ve survived to still offer the advice, “The pursuit of happiness can be extremely tiring— sit still and let happiness pursue you for a while.”

…an aimlessly irresistible collection of animated fun.

Terrence O’Flaherty
San Francisco Chronicle

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