I recently had the honour to work with my absolute new music heroes: The ELISION Ensemble. Long-time attender of their concerts, ELISION have been my gateway drug to the music of Liza Lim, Richard Barrett, Aaron Cassidy, and Evan Johnson, an eye-opener that virtuosity, dedication, boundary pushing music-making, and integrity does indeed exist. This particular opportunity came out of prolonged contact at the Brunswick Green. Beginning as a casual space for performance and improvisation in late 2018, ELISION’s Brunswick Green nights quickly evolved into a composer workshop session, with anyone welcome to bring 4-bars of music to try out with whoever was on hand that month. Having two sessions with Carl Rosman in December and then in January, I was asked by artistic director and lap steel wizard Daryl Bucky to extend these sketches into a solo work for Carl. By courtesy of Daryl and Carl’s generosity I had a few other private workshop sessions and then spent the next 5 months working on Subdue.

Carl Rosman Jakob Bragg
Jakob Bragg and the incomparable Carl Rosman. Photo by Nico Keenan

Subdue is part of an ongoing experimentation in pulling apart instrumental performance parameters, providing a hyper extension upon ornamentation and heterophony, rather than striving for a more polyphonic approach. Voice, fingers, reed position, embouchure, air pressure, and breath all come together to over-enrich an expressive and overtly decorative piece. Carl has brought his formidable expertise and musicality to a work I was anxious and even unsure of at times. He and Daryl have been welcoming and so supportive of my musical direction, delivering a performance and recording that is beyond reproach.



1. To conquer; to bring into subjection; to vanquish; to destroy
2. Tame; make submissive; repress; soften
3. To till or cultivate

(1956 Webster’s Dictionary)

I am drawn to these three rather extreme descriptions of the same word. The fact that a single word can simultaneously denote violence, de-escalation, and fertility is rather extraordinary.

In a way, the score subdues the performer via it’s restrictive and confining notation. However through this suppression new possibilities emerge… New sonic material arise from the struggle between instrument, performer, and score.

Join ELISION at the Brunswick Green every 3rd Tuesday of each month for live music, improvisation, composer workshops sessions, and cheap drinks! Entry free with donations welcome. Come while the weather and rain make for an especially moody and cosy night with an eclectic array of old but very comfortable lounges, mix-matched lamps, fading paintings, and random paraphernalia mounded on the walls.

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Elision at the Brunswick Green

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