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Microtonal guitaristby Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2007 Todd S. Jenkins
Improvising guitarist Rod Poole, a fixture of Los Angeles’ small but vital free-music scene, was murdered in an altercation in Hollywood, California on May 13, 2007. He was 45 years old.
Born in the U.K., Roderick Poole began playing the guitar at the age of ten. In the early 1980s he became interested in free improvisation, and in 1983 he joined the Oxford Improvisors’ Cooperative. Poole was unusual in the genre for primarily focusing upon the acoustic guitar. He kept active in the organization until 1989, when he relocated to Los Angeles. Soon thereafter he began investigating just-intonation as espoused by Tony Conrad and LaMonte Young. He formally studied the concept with theorist Ervin Wilson, and had his Martin guitar modified with a just-intoned fretboard.
In the 1990s Poole recorded for the WIN label, including The Death Adder (1996, his tour-de-force of nearly an hour‘s length) and December ‘96 (1998). Other sessions were released on Transparency (Iasis, a 1999 trio date with guitarists Douglas Williford and Joseph Hammer), Justguitar (Mind's Island, 2006, with wordless vocalist Sasha Bodganowitsch) and Incus (Acoustic Guitar Trio, 2000, with Nels Cline and Jim McAuley). Poole participated in a number of events sponsored by The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS), a Los Angeles non-profit arts organization, and appeared at the 2005 improvisation festival at University of California, Riverside, alongside Karl Berger and Philip Gelb. He also performed with Derek Bailey, Miya Masaoka, Donald Miller, Pat Thomas, Tony Bevan, Eugene Chadbourne and other improvisers during his career.
On May 13, 2007, Poole and his wife, Lisa, were walking through the parking lot of Mel’s Drive-In in Hollywood when a car driven by Angela Sheridan, 24, of Los Angeles, nearly backed into them. Poole exchanged words with the driver, who got out of the car along with her husband, Michael Sheridan, 25. The husband allegedly pulled a knife and stabbed Poole multiple times before the Sheridans got in the car and fled. Poole died less than an hour later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Michael and Angela Sheridan were arrested and are being held for murder on one million dollars’ bail.
Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.