Joey Trife
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play hi-fi  Twenty-first Century Chamber Ensemble excerpt
play hi-fi  Lost Civilizations ((C)(P) 2011)
play hi-fi  The Muse Within ((C)(P) 2011 Rosati & Zook)
play hi-fi  Spring Fever ((C)(P) 2011 T. A. Zook)
play hi-fi  Save the Planetarium! ((C)(P) 2011 T. A. Zook)
play hi-fi  Snafellsjokull (C)(P) 2011 T.A. Zook))
play hi-fi  AoI-1 ((C)(P) 2011 T. A. Zook
play hi-fi  T. A. Basscello ((C)(P) 2011 T. A. Zook)
My principal instrument is nylon-string guitar; I also play electric guitar; electric bass (5-string fretless and fretted); NS Design bass cello; and a variety of analog instruments such as bowls, rainsticks, slidewhistle, whistle-flutes, oceanharp, etc., through digital signal processors.

I began my study of the guitar in Chile and Uruguay, and continued upon my return to the U.S. in the early 1960s, having the extraordinarily good fortune to then study under Sophocles Papas (classical) and Frank Mullen (jazz).
During the early '70's, I had the privilege of working with B-3/pianist/vocalist/composer extraordinaire Larry Buck, who was unstinting in his support of my work and provided insights into the process of developing music that have stood me well ever since. Since 1999, I have been participating in improvisational workshops led by David Darling ( under the auspices of the Music for People organization ( I am also active in the Sonic Circuits organization in Washington DC ( and Baltimore's Volunteers Collective improvisational workshop ( I frequently perform with virtuoso reeds player Mike Sebastian ( as the "Lost Civilizations experimental music project" duo. Together with Janel Leppin (cello) and Anthony Pirog (guitar), Mike and I appear as the "Twenty-first Century Chamber Ensemble", which has performed on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. I have also been working recently with the remarkable vocalist/violinist Emily Chimiak, with whom I've performed together with Sara Boyce and Tara Asley Compton at the Atlas Performing Arts Center ( as well as with the incredible vocalist/improviser Susan Rosati, with whom I hope to complete the work on a forthcoming album begun at Last, but certainly not least, I perform with bassist Doug Kallmeyer.

A recent development is the release of "september impressions" on the ICTUS Records label ( "september impressions" is a work by the centazzo leppin sebastian zook project. The renowned Italian-American percussionist Andrea Centazzo ( stayed at my home while he was in town for his appearances in the 2010 Sonic Circuits Festival (, which included a solo performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage ( and an appearance with the Lost Civilizations experimental music project ( at The Mansion at Strathmore. On September 23, the day following Dr. Centazzo's Kennedy Center appearance, two of my colleagues in the Twenty-first Century Chamber Ensemble (, Janel Leppin (cello) and Mike Sebastian (reeds), came over to my home to jam. That date was an anniversary of Coltrane’s birth -- thus, “impressions” in this work’s title to honor the master’s legacy. Coincidentally, it was also the anniversary of the Twenty-first Century Chamber Ensemble's Millennium Stage appearance in the 2009 Sonic Circuits Festival ( I set up my recording rig to capture what I could. It was, in Dr. Centazzo’s words, “battlefield conditions”: his expansive percussion rig in the living room, my basscello rig in my music room, with Janel Leppin and Mike Sebastian squeezed into the very short connecting hallway. Although Dr. Centazzo used some pre-recorded material during our session and did a magnificent job in augmenting the session in postproduction, the music that Janel Leppin, Mike Sebastian and I contributed was unscored, unrehearsed and improvised extemporaneously on the spot -- and it was the first time we had all played together.

My friend and mentor (and 2010 Grammy winner!) David Darling ( was kind enough to offer the following review:

"I would easily say that this cellist and this group is inspirational and the cellist has the best lines and sound that I have ever heard including myself... Great and Unique music."

Amazon's release date for the CD is May 17, 2011 ( ); short mp3 samples of the tracks are posted @
Why this name?
It's my name!
Do you play live?
I play live, and I like it! Mostly in the DC and Baltimore area, as well as in Pennsylvania and New York at Music for People ( workshops.
How, do you think, does the internet (or mp3) change the music industry?
The Internet has greatly facilitated the forming of musical communities; although mp3 ultimately degrades the recorded product, it makes if feasible for a musician to reach a world-wide audience.
Would you sign a record contract with a major label?
It really depends........
Your influences?
I am forever indebted to my teachers Sophocles Papas (classical guitar) and Frank Mullen (jazz guitar) and my mentor, David Darling (music; improvisation)(see links posted below). I am equally indebted to Mr. Papas' teacher, the great Andrés Segovia, whose insight into the essence of music is revealed in the following:

". . . sonority and its infinite shadings are not the result of stubborn will power but spring from the innate excellence of the spirit."


Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from David Darling:

"Music is the only source of energy that I have known in my life that gives humans a chance to be instantly transformed into spirit."

* * *

"The Spiritual Significance of Music: I believe that the the spiritual significance of music is an intelligence, and consciousness that we are all given by our life. Babies in the womb respond to music and as our ears our emptied of the water at birth sounds/music begin their profound influence on our life. Music is the highest spiritual entity that I know about in my life. Music transforms our daily life moment by moment. We walk, run, dance, sing, chant. whistle, hum, groove to music our entire life. We are moved to tears by music and of course it is the key element in all rituals of the human experience. We are born into musical sound, and we pass to the next dimension with music as our friend and guide.

One of the sadness I feel about modern civilization is that the birth right to be musical has been taken away from many humans who have suffered from very narrow minded and uninformed teachers of music as well as society in general when there is criticism of any human of failing to sing or groove to some artificial standard.

What we know about music is that it comes to each individual in a personal way and when our outpouring of singing or grooving is approved of and encouraged great things happen for each individual. All of us succeed when we are surrounded by love rather than negative action."

— David Darling, October 2008


Alberto Ludwig Urquieta: "El universo es tremendamente creativo, lo que nos obliga a abrirnos a lo desconocido…" (The universe is tremendously creative, which obliges us to open ourselves to the unknown . . .)


A Bill of Musical Rights --- Developed by David Darling/Music for People

-Human beings need to express themselves daily in a way that invites physical and emotional release.

-Musical self-expression is a joyful and healthy means of communication available to absolutely everyone.

-There are as many different ways to make music as there are people.

-The human voice is the most natural and powerful vehicle for musical self-expression. The differences in our voices add richness and depth to music.

-Sincerely expressed emotion is at the root of meaningful musical expression.

-Your music is more authentically expressed when your body is involved in your musical expression.

-The European tradition of music is only one sound. All other cultures and traditions deserve equal attention.

-Any combination of people and instruments can make music together.

-There are no "unmusical" people, only those with no musical experience.

-Music improvisation is a unique and positive way to build skills for life-expression.

-In improvisation as in life, we must be responsible for the vibrations we send one another.


A very thought-provoking observation shared by Renato Ciunfrini: "Life is more ancient than death".


LaDonna Smith: "Every human being should have a musical instrument."


Anything else...?
From “The New Atlantis” by Sir Francis Bacon (written in 1624!)( with thanks to Sound on Sound’s April 2008 issue and in tribute to the late Daphne Oram of BBC’s The Radiophonic Workshop:

“We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds and their generation. We have harmony which you have not, of quarter-sounds and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have; with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep, likewise great sounds extenuate and sharp; we make divers tremblings and warblings of sounds, which in their original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices and notes of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which, set to the ear, do further the hearing greatly; we have also divers strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and, as it were, tossing it; and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some shriller and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice, differing in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have all means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.”


An excerpt from address to parents of the incoming freshman class at Boston Conservatory, given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of the music division at Boston Conservatory (brought to my attention by the incomparable oboist, english horn player and singer-songwriter Marianne Oisel):

“The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us.”



Snæfellsjökull (;;


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