Jean-Luc Guionnet – alto saxophone

Will Guthrie – drums

Clayton Thomas – double bass



How do they do it? How does THE AMES ROOM continue to wring substantial blood from that ancient stone? The stone in question being the moldering carcass of no-holds-barred free jazz, a lamented beast that has regularly suffered indignities these past couple of decades by well-meaning folk who insist on CPR maneuvers long after the entity has flat-lined. At least part of the answer has to do with discerning musicians who have wide experience in other genres honing in on the seriously vital sources of the music and dealing with the essences found there, not the superficialities. Brian Olewnick

The three members of THE AMES ROOM are involved in a multitude of musical activities: free improvisation, electro-acoustic composition, jazz, installations, noise, rock, however all three share a passion for free jazz at it’s most energetic and brutal heights. The music rests somewhere between Roscoe Mitchell’s Noonah, Last Exit’s tribal adventures, and Henry Threadgill’s spider web like tapestries of sound. Between them the three members have worked/work with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, Jim Denley, Robin Fox, Chris Abrahams, Axel Dorner, Johannes Bauer, Paul Lovens, Burkhard Beins, Keith Rowe, Jerome Noetinger, Thomas Ankersmit, Andy Moor, Tony Buck, Eric La Casa, Eric Cordier, Philipp Samartzis , Marc Baron …


January 7, 2012

Encompassed by the 48-minute marathon title track, the live performance captured on Bird Dies is irrefutably exhilarating. Featuring French alto saxophonist Jean Luc Guionnet‘s lead voice, The Ames Room embarks on a splintered approach to free-bop, propelled by drummer Will Guthrie‘s penetrating beats and bassist Clayton Thomas’ pumping bottom.

Perhaps the album title serves as an antithesis to the “Bird Lives” maxim ascribed to bop’s troubled genius Charlie Parker, where the hustling, pawning of saxophones, and recurring substance abuse led to his passing. This fast-paced memorial is conceivably exercised on a broad plane via the trio’s loose, but pummeling ostinatos, nestled within a fractured loop of concepts.

Guionnet’s rough-hewn tone is built on animated and staggered phrasings. Throughout the band’s relentless momentum, he carves out a tumultuous soundscape, filtered through the buoyant rhythmic element. Repetitive to some extent, the in-your-face gait offers a forum for extensive improvisation; nonetheless, it’s a high-impact endeavor that must have kept the audience on the edge of its seats.

The musicians exude angst, chaos and a locomotive-like cyclical impetus, tinted with a guttural underpinning via blistering choruses and understated variations. A relatively young band, the artists stay on target by engineering a consistent foundation, and do not simply waver into a free-form abyss during the course of the proceedings. The Ames Room provides a tensely articulated mosaic of sound, transposed into a blueprint for originality, which is a commendable attribute when considering these avant-garde-based endeavors.


Power trios come with various sounds and sizes. The Ames Room may be small but their sound is bold and forceful. This French/Australian trio lays into you like the first time you got beat up as a kid. It’s sheer brute force and once you finally give in there is this little blissful nature that sets in. The feeling that this might be all there is left for you. But The Ames Room help you realize there’s more inside the noise than you realize.
The Ames Room have only been on the scene for a short time (since 2007) but have crafted a sound that is blistering and beautiful. Fans of Vandermark, Gustafsson, Haker Flaten and Nilssen-Love are sure to gravitate to the trio’s new album, Bird Dies (Clean Feed). This one piece live recording follows up where their debut, IN (Monotype Records; 2010), left off–a full frontal attack of chords against the borders of a genre.
There’s no build up here. The Ames Room make their statement known from the first note. They come out of the gates ripping forward like Gustafsson’s The Thing in mid-performance. The staccato drums, breakneck sax and suffocating basslines that dominate the first 15 minutes of the piece are impressive for the duration as well as the stellar delivery.The gears shift only slightly around the 23min mark. Guionnet’s takes the lead but is challenged perfectly by Guthrie’s cascading patterns. Meanwhile Thomas paints a small rhythm in the background. There are moments just after the half hour mark that remind of Ornette Coleman’s Change Of The Century. A calm descends on the closing ten minutes only to be resurrected to the opening salvo of white noise which cuts deep then comes full-stop.
The audience at this performance was probably left in awe. You can only briefly feel it from low volume mic on the audience. But make no mistake The Ames Trio is building a following and will leave an indelible mark on your senses. Bird Dies is challenging music but isn’t that what music is all about?
Stephan Moore, December 12, 2011

Debut LP ‘in’ limited numbers still available at:

Contact, bookings:

Reviews of our debut LP ‘IN’:

‘Now, here’s a pleasant surprise! A raging, unabashedly free jazz trio that works. Jean-Luc Guionnet (he of the excellent organ disc, “Non-Organic Bias”) on alto, Clayton Thomas on bass and Will Guthrie on drums. Two non-stop live onslaughts of intense jazz-based improv that manages to avoid almost all the self-indulgence and gabbiness of the huge majority of such attempts in recent decades. How? I’m not sure, though Guthrie’s amazingly solid and imaginatively propulsive drumming certainly helps and Guionnet, for his part, somehow manages, though he virtually never takes horn from mouth and is generally in screaming mode, not to place himself at the center of attention. One automatically thinks of comparisons; somewhere between Lyons/Sirone/Cyrille and Mitchell/Favors/Moye? These sets have all the great energy that those trios may have had in the 70s. Even so, is it an open question as to the viability of such an approach in 2010? Most assuredly, but The Ames Room makes a strong case. btw, I’d forgotten the association until I looked it up, though I’d seen it many a time, but the original “Ames Room” is that 3D optical illusion. Hard to define, but I like that allusion vis a vis this trio’s relationship to classic free jazz. Check it out, in any case, especially you die-hard jazz fans…’
Brian Olewnick.