Dave Newhouse • Paul Sears • Thomas Frasier Scott • Billy Swann

"The finest progressive band that America produced." – Fred Frith

"The Muffins are the most important prog band the US has produced..t.he high quality of the music...should make my contention feasible to anyone with ears." – The Wire [4/23]

"The Muffins were an American band from the Washington, D.C. area...Their complex approach wove Canterbury-esque prog, electric fusion, vanguard jazz, modern classical composition, and free improvisation in a sound so ambitiously creative, it's difficult to easily categorize." – AllMusic


RUNE 500/512

It is an all-too-rare occurrence for a band, throughout its career, to create music that continually pushes the envelope and transforms the landscape. It is an even rarer occurrence for such a band to reunite after a long separation, and embark on a second musical career that continues to be as innovative as the first.

The Muffins, a group equally influenced by the then-current British progressive rock sounds of bands such as Henry Cow, National Health and Soft Machine as they were by contemporary American jazz and improvisational artists like Anthony Braxton, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra and Miles Davis, were formed in Washington, DC in the early 1970s and recorded three albums before disbanding in 1981. In 1998 the group reformed and recorded a further six albums. AllMusic describes their music as a 'unique blend of Canterbury progressive, fusion, improvisation and much more.'

During their two lifetimes, the band performed at now legendary festival events, including the ZU Festival (NYC), the Rock In Opposition Festival (France), the Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival (Rome), Sonic Circuits (D.C.) and NEARFest (Bethlehem, PA), among many others.

The band were a hugely creative force during both lifetimes, combing intense, rehearsal intensive compositions with spirited free play, and moving effortlessly between musical boundaries and genres. They were one of the great American contemporary music ensembles of our time.

Baker’s Dozen is a 13 disc box set of nearly all previously unreleased live and studio recordings from 1975 - 2010! It includes 12 CDs, a DVD, and a huge, informative booklet. The entire box is a treasure trove of never seen and never heard material.

Baker's Dozen press release

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RUNE 199

In 1998, The Muffins reformed with all four members, and it proved to be the genuine article. Double Negative is The Muffins' second studio recording released since reforming and possibly the most ambitious work of their career. Featuring 75 minutes of music spread over 17 songs, Double Negative is The Muffins' most compositionally diverse work, featuring pieces that vary in style and tone greatly, but which are always theirs (although they might fool you for a bit here and there!).

The Muffins have long been noted for the way they craft memorable themes with adventurous musical structures and this is no exception. In addition, it is the band's most instrumentally rich work, featuring an unprecedented number of musical guest appearances. Two principal members of the Sun Ra, Arkestra, Marshall Allen and Knoel Scott, play sax on several tracks, while longtime Muffins contributor, Doug Elliott, contributes excellent trombone parts to half the pieces, and string players also contribute.

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RUNE 161

In a very happy occurance, all four members of the band (Dave Newhouse-keyboards & reeds, Thomas Frasier Scott-reeds, Billy Swann-bass & guitar and Paul Sears-drums) reformed in 1998 and began developing a new repertoire and performing concerts. In a world glutted with half-baked reformations by bands looking to cash in on past glories, Bandwidth is the genuine article; a reformation of all the original members who who have gotten together not for money, but because they miss what they had done together in the past and who feel that they still have something to say.

Bandwidth is very recognizably the work of The Muffins; you can hear strains of both Manna/Mirage and <185> here, as well as lots of new elements. As we all know, there are very few second chances in life; as the saying goes, "you can't go home again." But we and The Muffins have all been handed another chance with Bandwidth. It really is them and they really are back!

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Originally released in 1981, just before the band's demise, <185> contains some of the last & some of the finest work from the band's original lifetime, by this amazing live ensemble. The original lp production downplayed the live aspects of the band, so, in addition to the original full lp version of <185> as known by all who own the original Random Radar vinyl version, we have remixed all seven compositions from the album (not the 3 improvisations) to their original "live in the studio" origins, and included them as bonus tracks, allowing you to hear exactly how the band used to sound during this time period. <185> has their most intricate, R.I.O.-styled work and it also features the best sonics of any of their albums.

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"The Muffins had the instrumentation of a jazz ensemble: woodwinds, piano, bass and drums...They took as models the jazz-rock hybrids of Soft Machine, Henry Cow and Magma, as well as the pioneers who'd inspired them in turn, such as Eric Dolphy and Sun Ra. They were particularly internested in collective improvisation, and ultimately a group vocabulary evolved that not only gave them more range in their compositions, but allowed them to sound cohesive even at their most free... Altogether, this is one of the best records ever to come out of America" – Boston Rock

"The ideal introduction to The Muffins." – Audion

Open City is all previously unreleased performances from 1977-80, by the "classic quartet" version of the band. Includes an outtake from Manna/Mirage, excellently recorded live pieces not found elsewhere, their incredible final demo tape, and two superb outtakes from Fred Frith's Gravity lp.

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Chronometers is an excellent collection of home and studio demos from the band's earliest period, when they were a quintet (Dave Newhouse-piano, organ, woodwinds, Tom Scott-woodwinds, Billy Swann-bass, Stuart Abramowitz-drums and Mike Zentner-guitar and violin). These 1975/76 recordings feature the band at their most Canterburian and especially at their most Hatfield-like. This is the band as I knew them when I first met them and these tapes - very carefully worked on to make them sound quite good from their very primitive genesis - is a loving tribute to a great band in their formative years, when they had more cats than fans....

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Manna/Mirage was their 1st and best known lp. A SUPERB and sublime instrumental mix of Canterbury progressive, jazz-rock, improvisational elements, and much more, all showcasing a distinctive sound and unique touch.

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For press and media: cover art and high resolution images are available below for download (click thumbnail, right-click image and select "Save As.."). Please credit the photographer (when available) and "Courtesy of Cuneiform Records". For more information, click here.

Baker's Dozen press release

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Cuneiform Records 2014

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