SAMA DUO:

"Guitarist/ oud player Mustafa Stefan Dill  and drummer/percussionist Jefferson Voorhees jam away on music that merges Eastern influences with funk. It’s catchy, challenging, spacey and spiritual all at the same time."  Mel Minter, Weekly Alibi, 9/15/2010

Article from Rima Ralff of the Taos News, 11/2009:  "No Musical Boundaries: Sama Duo taps rock, Middle Eastern and Asian influences"

 

OTHER:

Six Peaces:

"Stunning artistry once more on display by free jazz and flamenco fusion master of the guitar and oud, Mustafa Stefan Dill. His previous album in a trio setting Run For Heaven (see review) was cathartic for tired ears bored by contemporary mainstream offerings. Now Stefan digs even deeper to unearth some fundamentals about jazz, flamenco, spirituality and life itself.

At moments you are listening to an acoustic Jimmy Page intro, at others it is Paco de Lucia or John McLaughlin ripping across Aolean landscapes, but all the time you are listening to a supreme musician, who is passionate about their musical niche and the faith that gives them their creative energy. "

Julian Derry, JMA, Nov 2003


Run for Heaven
and Flower and Song:

"Flower and Song" is a satisfying and eminently listenable set of duets featuring the 6 and 12 string guitars of Stefan Dill with drummer Dave Wayne, bassist Dave Nielsen, saxophonists John Dikeman and Jack Wright (whose supple flurries on "Circle of Skies" work beautifully with Dill's flamenco guitar) and fellow guitarist John Jasnoch (recorded in a pub in Sheffield, England, in a quietly busy but relaxed atmosphere - there's even a brief reference to "Baa Baa Black Sheep" halfway through "The Serpent Mat"). The pièce de résistance of the album is the splendid "Zakil Amak'El (Light That Lasts)" with Dikeman, a beautifully crafted nine and a half minutes, after which the duos with drums and bass come as something of light relief.

These latter, as well as the set of nine totally improvised trios with Nielsen and Dave Wayne that make up "Run for Heaven", were recorded in bassist Dave Nielsen's home studio in Canoncito, New Mexico, "where the mountains loom large and vibrant, full of ancient life and ancestral thunder". "Run for Heaven" finds Dill returning to the "primal voice" of the electric instrument (though he does use the acoustic on "Fire Garden" and the beautiful "Morning River").

There are - perhaps inevitable - echoes of guitarists as diverse as Sharrock and Blood Ulmer, but the urban savagery of the former and the claustrophobic heat-energy of the latter chill out in the high desert air of New Mexico, and nobody's watching the clock in case the band overruns its studio time. The musicians really stretch out - perhaps even too much at times: Nielsen has the sense not to follow Wayne into the treacherous canyon of straight jazz-rock in the title track, while "Nightpath"'s percussion is just a little too spaced-out for this listener (though maybe that's because I'm bang in the middle of a big city).

Stefan Dill, well-versed in classical, jazz, flamenco and rock, is a licks man, meaning not that he throws them in willy-nilly in a display of empty virtuosity, but rather that he knows just the right place to insert them as logical natural developments in his long, unfolding solos. - Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic, April 2002

"The jazz power trio from Hell! Mahavishnu battling Broetzmann in a steel cage. Vicious chops, dextrous guitar playing, and a solid rhythm section make this an essential release for guitar jazz fans". - Rudy Carrera, Falcata-Galia records

New Mexico-based guitarist Stefan Dill has spent the better part of the last decade concentrating solely on solo acoustic flamenco guitar, and so recently felt the need to play some loud electric guitar again (presumably a return to his teenage roots?). With bassist Dave Nielsen and drummer Dave Wayne (who, from the cd booklet/tray photos, both look pretty much identical to Stefan himself -- it really appears from the photos that they're all the same guy!) he formed this jazz fusion trio to crank it up and rock out. Loud, burning, skronky stuff (although, they do calm down at times and indulge in some more restrained, quiet passages). It's all very beautiful if you're into this sort of thing, definitely for fans of Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and Nels Cline!! Cool. - Aquarius Records, March 2002

Late Wednesday night, stuck on one of those niggly little work problems that send you round in circles, throw you into a rut and suck the very life from your brain. Yep, this head's a mess and inspiration would still be a stranger if it got up and did some face slapping right now. But maybe that's also because the final track has just spun it's last nasal squawk from three days of listening exclusively to the entire Bob Dylan back catalogue and now something more musically extreme is desperately needed. Something to make the hairs stand up and pay attention. Grab the first one off the top of the inbox pile.

Hmmm. What's this? Run For Heaven. Ok. eeeeeEEEEEWWWWWAAAAAAAAA PWANG.

That's more like it! What a shot in the arm the Stefan Dill Trio deliver. Pete Cosey wah-wah, Zappa angst and Mahavishnu vocabulary, but ultimately this has the same extraordinary metered chaos born in Lifetime.

What was it about Lifetime? Simply, it was a comprehensive manifesto for all that was to come in amplified jazz-rock and fusion (Tower). Shattering the boundaries between jazz and rock by creating dense, adventurous, unpredictable soundscapes (Allmusic). Absolutely unlike any other instrumental sound ever heard (Gleason). The acerbic jazz-rock captured on Run For Heaven is improvised in its entirety and centres around Stefan Dill's guitar work, packed with Hendrix inspired blues licks and string bends, coupled with John McLaughlin out there raw energy bursting into beautifully sustained feedback parries with bass and drums, entwined to form this free jazz trio's bold statement. Elsewhere plump acoustic guitar and bass splish splash through flamenco heat and ice, conjoining in a true fusion, while the last time I heard something similar to the next track intro was in a monastry on the Rongbuk glacier. But fragile chimes and rattles, thick skin drums and Yak bells soon give way to the most Lifetime-like music this side of Turn It Over. Is this what they were trying to achieve on Emergency? I wonder. If only there was a Hammond in there too. To coin a well known phrase, "it's music, but not as we know it Jim". To coin another, "do yourself a favour, buy Run For Heaven". Don't miss this chance in a Lifetime. - Julian Derry, March 2002 the JMWeb

With Stefan Dill on guitars, Dave Nielsen on bass, and Dave Wayne on drums. Exceptionally well-recorded, and gripping at points, but oh, maan - that packaging. Well, not so much the packaging, because the liner notes are informative and it's nice to actually see photographs of people working in the group (so much of experimental and improvisational music biographical information ranges from the hazy to the occluded). But it's that Raygun Syndrome again - where the text is repeated and rephrased until it's almost unreadable. Are we to believe that there is an invisible solar entity over one's shoulder, making shadows lengthen from the titles of the pieces to some previously undefined perspective point in the background? Oh dear.

It's all exceptionally energetic playing and it's entirely possible that this was all recorded in 72+ minutes, in one take, with no overdubs, etc. Some extended guitar scree abounds. "Fire Garden" puts the trio in a more contemplative series of sounds, yet still with that frenetic energy, much like a moth flitting about the room that refuses to be swatted. Bells and scratching and chimes and resonance now. The tones of the guitar rise like spectral waves of heat on the two-lane blacktop, and the engine revs and races across the humid stretch of time. "Morning River" is more of the mellow still left unharshed (acoustic guitar and drum brush division), crepuscular bass reaching out from the gathering twilight, and "Run for Heaven" spins the trio out as if the alarm had gone off and there was a bus to Heaven that had to be caught; smiling victorious as it's just barely caught before driving away. -David Cotner-, Freq, April 2002

Sangre Del Rio and Warning Clothed In Bright Robes of Dawn:


See extensive interview in Gitarre Aktuell, II/98, No. 61
(available by fax on request) -


"... I have been waiting to hear someone like Dill who plays with the lure and percussive attack of flamenco and the atonal and abstract styles of modern non-idiomatic improvisers. In Dill's playing, hybrid chords become indistinguishable from tone clusters and compas undetectable within improvised rhythms....The world should be truly excited to be graced by such an exciting new guitarist." Tom Pratt, Signal To Noise, May/June 1999 (No. 11)

"Der Ameikaner Dill offerierte dem Publikum Flamenco auf hohem Niveau. Dabei sprengte er Form arbeitet mit Dissonanzen und Distanz schaffenden Brüchen. Der Zuhörer hatte mit unter eine Wüste New Mexicos vor Augen,verlassene Pueblos, herumgewehtes Gestrüpp und Müll. Dann fand Dill aber auch immer wieder den Weg zur schönen Melodie, zur wunderbaren Blume, die hinter dem Autowrack blüht. Größere formale Strege täte allerdings seinen Kompositionen güt. " Lothar Zygar, Neue Westfälische, 28 September 1998 (review of Paderborn Gittarenfest performance)

"Dill's playing is very quick, fluent, and highly accomplished, at times generating some beautifully rich and powerful textures inspired by the high drama of flamenco...stimulating". Geoff Cox, Classical Guitar (England), June 1998

"Very much in the flamenco vein ...while displaying a sometimes delicate and sometimes turbulent style. Yet his emotional playing has all the elements of what creative improvised music is all about....unquestionably an exceptional performance." Cadence, April 1998 (Vol 24 No. 4)

"While it's an oversimplification to describe these freeimprov/flamenco fusions as'Derek Bailey goes to Spain', Dill's evocative solo nylon stringpieces are an ear-stretching hybrid of Bailey's stark pointillism and traditional flamenco gestures....full of delicate dynamic shading and poignant silences. Soulful and innovative." Joe Gore, Guitar Player, May 1998

" The work of guitarist Stefan Dill is as daring as it is ambitious and satisfying. ...These are tensions which propel the music - beyond hearing , which is what it ultimately aspires to- is all to do with the delivering of not just sound, but of a pure experience". Loretta Summers, World Beat (England), no 6 (April/May 1998)

"Eine mitreißende Tour durch eine andere Welt von Klängen und Inspirationen. Flamenco? Ja - aber einmal ganz anders!" Peter Maier, Gitarre Aktuell, I/98 (No. 60)

" Solo guitar music that lies somewhere in the triangle between flamenco, ECM style improvisatory jazz, and aleatory/12 tone composition....very original, and totally unique". Guillermo Juan Christie, Flamenco Connection

" ...haunting music in a language that floats on the threshold of the unconscious, congratulations!" Roberto Limon, Director, Centro hispanoamericano de Guitarra, August 1996

"The completeness and extreme originality of guitarist Stefan Dill's art is more than impressive....He has drawn from all manner of sources: the percussive power of flamenco has a role to play, balancing the expressivity of free jazz and the structural concerns of post - Schoenberg straight music....Crucially, his music is no potpourri: his tastes may be eclectic but he has his own, very distinctive, voice." Steve Lake, FMP Total Music Meeting 1994 programme notes

Some highlights of where the solo work has taken me over the years:

Fretless Guitar Festival 2008 , NYC (Sept 2008)

Netherlands concerts and Erlbach Gitarren Concert series, Europe (Nov 2002)

High Mayhem Festival, Santa Fe (Oct 2002)

Festival International de la Guitarra Hispanoamericano, Tijuana, Mexico (Nov 1998)

International Gitarren -Festival Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany (Sep 1998)

Kulturhaus Mitte ,Berlin, Germany (Oct 1998, Nov 1995)

Jazzgalerie Nickelsdorf, Nickelsdorf, Austria (Sep 1998, Nov 1995)

College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM (Mar 1998)

Red Rose Theatre, London, England (Nov 1997)

Other Music Concert Series, Sheffield, England (Nov 1997)

International Guitar Festival of Great Britain, Wirral, England (Nov 1997)

Strings Festival, Chamizal Theatre, El Paso, TX (May 1996)

Knitting Factory, NY, special invitation as part of the Cecil Taylor Ensemble (May 1996)

Zuid Nederlands Jazz Festival, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (Oct 1995) (solo and duo with Guus Janssen)

FMP Total Music Meeting, Berlin, Germany (Nov 1994)

Hochschule fur Musik Köln, Cologne, Germany (Nov 1994)

Het Appolohuis, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (Nov 1994)

New Mexico State University , Las Cruces NM (performance and Master class, Jan 1996, Oct 1992)

and others...


O stef2

Guitarist/improvisor/oudist/sarodiyya Mustafa Stefan Dill was born in New Mexico to a Mexican mother and German-Irish father. His mutli-national and cross-cultural childhood experiences include strong memories with Lebanese relatives in Mexico and formative years in the culturally diverse city of Montpellier, France.
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His initial music - an intense and unique convergence of traditional flamenco and Middle Eastern elements and modern free improvisation - won critical praise with recordings such as Warning Clothed in Bright Robes of Dawn, Sangre Del Rio and Six Peaces (his debut on the oud), paving the way for his hallmark approach of combining modern and traditional improvising techniques within a deep immersion of various cultural musical traditions.

A guitarist for over 30 years, he earned a Masters degree in composition from the New England Conservatory in Boston, studying with Joe Maneri.

He has performed in solo concerts throughout Europe since 1992 in both improvised music and guitar circles at such venues and festivals as FMP's Total Music Meeting, Wirral Guitar Festival, Paderborn Guitar Festival, Zuid Nederlands Jazz Festival, Festival HispanoAmericano de la Guitarra, Erlbach, Nickelsdorf, and others.


He has performed with artists such as Cecil Taylor (special invitation as part of the Ensemble, Knitting Factory, May 1996), Guus Janssen (Eindhoven 1995), and more recently with mJane and Out of Context.

He also maintained the adventurous energy of classic progressive rock and free jazz in such projects as the Stefan Dill Trio's release Run For Heaven (2002).

For the past  eight years Dill teamed up with percussionist Jefferson Voorhees for the Sama Duo, a groove-oriented energetic jamrock improv/ free jazz duet with a South Asian  and Middle Eastern twist. The group evolved from an early  acoustic format with sarod and tabla to a wider range of textures with fretless electric guitar and drum set.

 

The Duo was chosen in 2006 to provide the music score for the independent film "Birth of a Pillow" by director Sharmy Pandey, from Kolkata, India. The film is a 47 minute feature with no dialogue, requiring a continuous music score that would amplify and emotionally detail the story to a very high degree.

In late 2011, Sama Duo  evolved yet again by adding bassist Christine Nelson and retooling as Pray For Brain. The new trio expands the range of groove, nuance and improvising conversations, C MSDSolofretless8949Croppedwith a music that's simultaneously lighter but deeper, easier to hear but harder to shake off.

The group released its debut CD "None Of the Above" early spring of 2014 to critical  acclaim. European and Asian dates are being planned for 2015.