A0277-CD: Locking Horns

Locking Horns by John Kenny & Etienne Rolin

CD CoverLocking Horns is the title of Etienne Rolin’s duo for carnyx & soprano saxophone, and also the name we call ourselves when we perform as a duo. Etienne is a true polymath: composer, multi instrumental performer, painter, philosopher, equally at home in the worlds of jazz, baroque music, or the most extreme European avant garde. He has composed more music for me than any other composer, including a trombone sonata, trombone concerto, over thirty solo pieces, chamber works in almost every conceivable combination. However, from our very first meeting in Paris in 1984 we have always improvised together, and improvisation underpins this album of compositions, and structures for improvisation. We are joined by the percussionist / singer / actor Marc Depond.

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Audio Samples & Track Listing

Track Listing

  • Locking Horns - 7'36 (Etienne Rolin)
  • Wood & Brass Rituel - 8'44 (Etienne Rolin)
  • Crichton Chapel Cries - 3'23 (Etienne Rolin)
  • Beastly Brothers - 11'53 (Etienne Rolin)
    • 1st Mvt
    • 2nd Mvt
    • 3rd Mvt
  • Tribal Dance - 9'55 (Etienne Rolin)
  • Cavern Choir - 2'27 (Etienne Rolin)
  • Rustique - 5'57 (Etienne Rolin)
  • Quick Sands - 5'25 (Etienne Rolin)
  • Funk Finesse - 9'17 (Etienne Rolin)

CD Notes & Credits

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Etienne Rolin writes - This Locking of Horns started in 1983 when I first met John Kenny in Paris. Astounded by his conviction and professional zeal for new music, both written and improvised, I was drawn to imagine numerous projects around the musician and the man. From solos to trombone concertos, jam sessions to recording sessions, in France & Scotland, John Kenny has become an ideal voice for my music.

What you are listening to is a deep musical collaboration that has become, over the years, acoustically telepathic. The year 2000, I felt, is more than fitting to gather works around the magnificent Carnyx, brought to life by my amazing brass wizard companion. Thanks to modern communications, John Kenny’s multifaceted talents as soloist composer and teacher will no longer be a confidential item. Our quest for the new and innovative has always been related to the archetypal foundations of our musical heritage. Our work around the Carnyx points to a new age of music making, where Ancient practice and the Contemporary artist join hands.

The presence of Marc Depond on Tribal Dance and on Rustique is very special due to my love for rhythm and the strong puisations from Africa that emanate from his percussion array. I feel the need to surround myself with versatile artists, thus Marc’s knowledge and experience as an actor/director/dance collaborator is extremely rewarding.

A special mention should go to Jean-Marc Terrasse of L’lnstitut Francais d'Ecosse who had an early eye and ear for the Locking Horns collaboration. The precious help with travel, lodgings, rehearsal and gallery space offered by the Institut made for a solid staring point for this project. The title track, Locking Horns was recorded there prior to a performance.

Three recordings were made in the awesome Musée du Tumulus in Bougon, France, where John Kenny and I were invited for a concert-lecture by Elaine Lacroix. The wondrous acoustic of the 12th century chapel made the recording of my solo Quick Sands a profound musical experience. I am quite open to virtual acoustic spaces, especially if someone such as John Whiting is in control. His special effects on Funk Finesse took John Kenny and myself to another planet.

Cavern Choir, on the other hand, is not outer space, but the inner space of three bass flutes, which I over-dubbed. This is the resting place on the CD before proceeding with the brass display. Finally one personal word of thanks to my daughter Dominique, who assisted in the initial stages of the CD, sorting the text and photographs.

John Kenny writes - The Carnyx is a Celtic instrument, prevalent throughout Europe from about 300 BC to 200AD. Although depicted on numerous metal and stone objects of both Celtic and Graeceo-Roman origin, no complete Carnyx has ever been found. The most substantial fragment was unearthed in the parish of Deskford, on the shores of the Moray Firth in Northeast Scotland in 1816. It is a lip-reed instrument, like all modern brass instruments are, made of bronze, surmounted by a stylised wild boar’s head, complete with hinged jaw and lolling wooden tongue. In the playing position, this head stands 4m high.

The project to reconstruct the Deskford Carnyx was initiated by the musicologist Dr. John Purser, funded jointly by the National Museums of Scotland and the Glenfiddich Living Scotland Awards. Silversmith John Creed carried out the reconstruction, in consultation with the Archaeologist Fraser Hunter together with John Purser and myself.

Since coming back to life in 1993, the Carnyx has proven itself an instrument of extraordinary power and subtlety - its dynamic range is as great as any modern orchestral instrument, with a pitch range of five octaves. It has featured in over 60 performances and lectures throughout Europe, been the subject of radio and television documentaries, and can heard on six CDs, including four of the tracks on this one, the title track of BML016 Voice of the Carnyx and others on BML024 Forest-River-Ocean.

Both the original and the reconstruction can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. In 1997 a charitable company, Carnyx & Co. was set-up to explore the potential of the Carnyx both as an educational and a musical resource and to set up projects in the field of musical archaeology. If you want to discover more about the Carnyx and the activities of Carnyx & Co, please visit our Website:­

I had a series of solo recitals in Paris in 1983 and decided to spend my spare time at the Centre de Documentation Contemporaine, reading and listening to scores by post-war French composers in search, not only for trombone repertoire that I could interpret, but also for composers from whom I might try to commission new pieces. Each time I found a score that really interested me, I would look for other pieces by the same person. And whilst I was on the third score by one composer, a big man leaned over and asked what I thought of the music. When I replied with enthusiasm, he burst out in a loud American accent ‘no kidding man - that’s my xxxx you’re listening to! It was, of course, Etlenne Rolin, in Paris to hear the premiere of his Jardin Baroque played by Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble Intercontemporain.

A few hours later, I found myself on a train heading south to Angouleme, where Etienne and I spent the next three days improvising, recording and exchanging ideas. It has been a process that has continued for sixteen years. Composer, painter, saxophonist, flautist, record producer - Etienne does it all with relentless enthusiasm. Our initial composer/performer relationship has both developed into duo performance and role reversal, not to mention the many varied ensemble formations we have set up between us.

The oldest recording on this CD dates from 1986. Etienne’s Wood and Brass Ritual was written at my request to explore my duo with Japanese marimbist Nachiko Maekane. We met at the Gaudeamus competition in Holland in 1983, competing against each other as soloists. We both turned Out as prize winners and part of the reward was a concert in Amsterdam, in which we spontaneously decided to combine for an improvisation. This was such a success with the audience that, over the next five years we commissioned a whole new repertoire for trombone and marimba.

John Whiting is a native of New England, who moved to London in the late 60s and is now widely regarded as the most eminent sound projectionist in Britain, John and I have had a duo partnership since 1986, working with both composed and improvised music. When I formed the improvising composer’s ensemble Scot Free in 1998, John was the natural choice to handle the sound transformation. Funk Finesse is the first, completely spontaneous live improvisation between Etienne, John and myself, recorded at the Queen’s Hall Edinburgh on 24.10.98 at a concert promoted by ECAT (Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust).

In the 16th and 17th centuries both the French and English called the trombone, the sackbut, but in Scotland it was known as the draucht trumpet and we know they were played in the lavish court ensembles of James IV and V. My interest in the sackbut dates back to the early ‘70s and these days I teach sackbut at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, which gave me a good platform to launch His Am Dreucht Trumpets in 1997 with the aim of rediscovering a Scottish renaissance repertoire and placing it in the context of the mainstream of European music.

The members also comprise some of Scotland’s leading contemporary trombonists, giving Etienne the chance to explore the relationship’ of the trombone to its ancient ancestor, the Carnyx. Beastly Brothers was initially composed for a group of my students, all members of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra and the central movement of the piece was premiered by them at the Royal Museum of Scotland in May 1999. At my request Etienne added two outer movements and the entire piece was premiered at the National Museum of Scotland on the 29th of August 1999, at the height of the Edinburgh Festival.

The following day we recorded the work in the magical, stone vaulted acoustic of Crichton Collegiate Chapel, south of Edinburgh near Pathead, Midlothian. This church dates from 1449 and stands next to the ruined Crichton Castle, both being intimately bound-up with the history of Scottish renaissance art and politics, so I feel it is the perfect compliment to the voices of the Trombones and Carnyx. After the session Etienne brought out a solo piece for Carnyx, written that morning in Edinburgh! So, the recording you hear is my sight reading of Crichton Chapel Cries!       John Kenny


All Compositions by Etienne Rolin except the improvisation Tribal Dance
The scores of the works on this CD are available through
Questions de Tempéraments, 11 Rue Louis Jouvet, 33700 Mérignac, France. 

John Kenny - Trombone / Carnyx
John Kenny performs and records on Conn 88h tenor and Conn 36h alto trombones
Etienne Rolin - Saxophones / Bass Flute

Nachiko Maekane - Marimba
Marc Depond - Percussion Djembe
John Whiting - Sound Projection
His Ain Draucht Trumpets - Trombone Quartet
John Milne, Emily White & Mark Boyd - Tenor Trombones
Lorna MacDonald - Bass Trombone

Details of John Kenny’s compositions, recordings, music archaeology.

Cover Picture: Organic Birth by Etienne Rolin
CD Booklet Notes: Etienne Rolin & John Kenny
Location Recording Venues
1 institute Francais d’Ecosse
2 BBC Scotland, Glasgow
3 & 4-5-6 Crichton Chapel, Edinburgh
7 & 8 Musee du Tumulus, Bougon, France
9 Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Engineered by: Etienne Rolin & John Whiting
Edited by: Thomas Bloch @ TGB Studio, Paris
Mastered @ Dream Snips: Milton Keynes
Artwork by: CD Arts, Milton Keynes.
CD Production: CRS@ 01424444141


Album & Artist Information

Instruments: Contemporary Trombone/Carnyx : Saxophone / Bass Flute (marimba. percussion)
Genre: Contemporary
Format: Audio CD
Our Ref: A0277
Label: British Music Label
Year: 2006
Origin: UK

Please click here for Artist Information and Contact Details

Also by John Kenny

Available from Creighton's Collection by John Kenny:
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The Voice of the Carnyx A Field of Scarecrows The Marshall Plan  
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- Ocean
Locking Horns Nomad