I have invented and made dozens of wind instruments such as the Saxillo, the gaidanet, the watering can clarinet and the carrot clarinet, Mr and Mrs Curly (contra bass clarinets), Crow (a narrow bore bass clarinet made from Crows Ash) and dozens of variously tuned clarinis (keyless clarinets). I’ve even created a clarinet from my Norwegian Great Great Grandfather’s smoking pipe.
“MRS CURLY and the NORWEGIAN SMOKING PIPE” features 15 of these instruments in a performance and an album that puts these instruments Centrestage. Although I play these instruments in various projects they never have been really featured and this project does just that, playing in an ensemble with 3 great musicians. These musicians include amazing percussionist Tunji Beier (who specialises in Sth Indian percussion), the extraordinary Philip Griffin (playing oud, guitar and electric bass) and renowned cellist Louise King.
“Mrs Curly and the Norwegian Smoking Pipe” is a 90 minute performance featuring the various wind instruments. The recorded tracks have been included in a gorgeous CD / 40 page book set that also includes photos of each instrument.
Here’s an example track featuring the Saxillo called “Raining in Skopje”:
Some of the featured wind instruments are:
Mrs Curly – a narrow bore spiral contra bass clarinet, made from glass (a collaboration with glass artisan Arnie Fuchs).
Naturally I have to include the Carrot Clarinet (a clarinet made from a carrot):
here’s a of You Tube clip of the carrot clarinet:
The Saxillo – the instrument I have spent the most time perfecting over many years. It’s like a soprano sax made from wood, with no keys, and was inspired by the Hungarian tarogato.
There is also “Mr Curly” (a contra bass clarinet made from garden hose. He went viral on YouTube a while ago:
“Crow” is also a narrow bore bass clarinet, but made from wood (Crows Ash), using a router to create a very curly bore:
The watering can clarinet:
Finally there is the Norwegian Smoking Pipe which I have made into a clarinet. This is the most recent instrument and was made from the pipe owned by my Great great grandfather (the Norwegian sailor Jorgen Hermann Ludvigsen).
Review for Mrs Curly and the Norwegian Smoking Pipe Syd Morning Herald – JOHN SHAND
Hearing this album, without knowing the background, might well have one puzzling over what wind instruments one was hearing. Was this one some peculiar clarinet and that an even weirder saxophone? In fact, Linsey Pollak plays a different reed instrument of his own invention on all 15 tracks. Of course, inventing instruments is one thing and making music on them quite another, but something so organic is implicit in the process that a dash of magic is strewn at every turn. The compositions are also Pollak’s, occasionally in collaboration with Tunji Beier (percussion) and Philip Griffin (assorted strings), while Louise King’s pretty cello is an intermittent presence. Between them the players provide enormous variation in the textures couching the serpentine melodies, off-metre rhythms and improvisations, and the cumulative charm, beauty and emotional range is an apt match for Pollak’s dazzling ingenuity.