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1939 Ensemble

1939 Ensemble is percussionists Jose Medeles and David Coniglio. Played on vibraphone and drumkit, the music puts elegantly moody vibes melodies against skittering drum patterns. Bursts of noise interrupt like static electricity over the radio before a thunderstorm. These four mesmerizing songs come from their new release, Howl & Bite.

Listen to the full session (with the interview), and download “Esperer”:


Jose Medeles and David Coniglio play drumkit and vibes interchangeably in 1939 Ensemble. Medeles, the former drummer of The Breeders, settled in Portland and opened Revival Drum Shop, which specializes in vintage percussion.  Coniglio landed in Portland after studying jazz percussion at Berklee College of Music, and is the head drum instructor at the Portland School of Rock.

According to Medeles, 1939 Ensemble was inspired by Konono No.1 — a band from Kinshasa, Republic of Congo — and its recordings under the name Congotronics. The influential and somewhat underground recordings captured a unique club sound made with salvaged traditional Congolese instruments played through buzzy, overdriven amplifiers. Those led Medeles to experiment with a different way of amplifying the vibraphone. 1939 Ensemble also uses several “found” instruments of its own, including a prized drumkit that came from a dusty SE Portland attic. The vintage instruments combine with bursts of electronic noise which punctuate and charge the duo’s tightly constructed songs.

You can hear 1939 Ensemble tonight (April 12th) at Hood River’s Cebu Lounge, then April 18th at The Roseland Theater opening for Medeski, Martin & Wood.


Audio engineer/mixing: Steven Kray

Video editor: Nate Sjol

Video shooters: Nate Sjol, David Christensen

Interview and Executive Producer: David Christensen


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