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Stephen Ruppenthal

(John )

(b Oakland, CA, Sept 19, 1952). American guitarist, synthesizer player, and producer. He studied economics at Harvard University (BA 1976) and began performing in improvisational contexts in 1974. In 1979 he became involved in experimental rock and has since performed extensively in the United States and abroad. He has worked with, among others, Derek Bailey, David Lindley, Fred Frith, Herbie Hancock, Jerry Garcia, Bill Laswell, Eugene Chadbourne, Michael Stipe, Diamanda Galás, John Zorn, Richard Thompson, and John Oswald; he has also played with the Rova Saxophone Quartet and many free-music groups in the San Francisco Bay area, where he has been based. In both solo and ensemble performance he characteristically aims for some type of fusion of rock, jazz, non-Western, and avant-garde classical styles and focuses on “language elements of attack, articulation, pitch bend trajectory, and velocity.” His use of elastic rhythms, non-tempered scales, and widely varied timbres shows the influence of Southeast Asian and Indian musics and the blues. His extended solo improvisations (such as “The Shadow Line” on the album ...