Virtual Tour: A Reduced Carbon Footprint Concert Series. Featuring Mark Dresser, Michael Dessen, Nicole Mitchell, Sarah Weaver, Gerry Hemingway and more.

Mark Dresser / Nicole Mitchell / Myra Melford / Michael Dessen: Virtual Tour: A Reduced Carbon Footprint Concert Series (PFMDVD094)

Jeff Kaiser


Excerpt from “for instance, today” from Michael Dessen on Vimeo.

[NEW DVD! WILL SHIP FEBRUARY 5! In celebration of this release, we are offering a special price for this DVD! Three hours of music for $10.00. Sale ends midnight February 29, 2016.]

In April 2013, a quartet of renowned composer-improvisers—Mark Dresser, Nicole Mitchell, Myra Melford and Michael Dessen—performed an unprecedented “virtual tour” of new music conceived for world-class musicians performing together live in different geographic locations via Internet2. Building on years of prior telematic collaborations and using high-speed bandwidth available only at research and educational institutions, Virtual Tour linked performers and audiences across thousands of miles, using lifelike, uncompressed audio and high definition video to set a new standard for telematic music making. The core quartet, based in San Diego, California, collaborated with a different remote ensemble for each of the three concerts: Jason Robinson, Marty Ehrlich and Bob Weiner in Amherst, Massachusetts; Matthias Ziegler and Gerry Hemingway in Zurich, Switzerland; and Sarah Weaver, Ray Anderson, Jane Ira Bloom, Min Xiao-Fen, and Matt Wilson in Stony Brook, New York. With footage from all three concerts and featuring eleven world premieres designed specifically to explore the unique potentials of this medium, this DVD documents an important step forward in bringing world-class creative music to the telematic stage. Please visit http://virtualtour2013.com for more information on this project.

Total run time approximately 193 minutes

Virtual Tour:

Amherst Concert:
Mr. Not-So TC, composed by Mark Dresser (14:29) (Del Dresser Music/ASCAP)
For Instance, Today, composed by Michael Dessen (16:22) (Cronopio Music/ASCAP)
The Story of My Anxiety, composed by Marty Ehrlich (9:41) (Dark Sounds Music/BMI)
God’s Bits of Wood, composed by Nicole Mitchell (6:25) (Wheatgoddess Creations/ASCAP)
Noema, composed by Jason Robinson (11:59)(Circumvention Music/ASCAP)

Performers in Amherst, MA: Marty Ehrlich, alto saxophone and bass clarinet; Jason Robinson, tenor saxophone and alto flute; Bob Weiner, drums

Performers in San Diego, CA: Nicole Mitchell, flute; Michael Dessen, trombone; Myra Melford, piano; Mark Dresser, bass

Zurich Concert:
3 Stories, composed by Gerry Hemingway (19:22)(Nagual Music/GEMA/BMI)
Between Walls, composed by Nicole Mitchell (9:45) (Wheatgoddess Creations/ASCAP)
SubTeleToning, composed by Mark Dresser (21:14) (Del Dresser Music/ASCAP)
Buffered Fragments, composed by Matthias Ziegler (14:48) (Matthias Zieger/SUISA)

Performers in Zurich, Switzerland:
Matthias Ziegler, flute; Gerry Hemingway, drums
Performers in San Diego, CA: Nicole Mitchell, flute; Michael Dessen, trombone; Myra Melford, piano; Mark Dresser, bass

Stony Brook Concert:
Universal Synchrony Music: Volume 1, composed by Sarah Weaver (30:30) (Sarah Weaver Music Publishing, ASCAP)
SubTeleToning, composed by Mark Dresser (25:16) (Del Dresser Music/ASCAP)
Telepathology, composed by Nicole Mitchell (14:41) (Wheatgoddess Creations/ASCAP)

Performers in Stony Brook, NY:
Sarah Weaver, conductor; Jane Ira Bloom, soprano saxophone; Ray Anderson, trombone; Min Xiao Fen, pipa; Matt Wilson, drums; Doug Van Nort, laptop (on Universal Synchrony Music: Volume 1)
Performers in San Diego, CA: Nicole Mitchell, flute; Michael Dessen, trombone; Myra Melford, piano; Mark Dresser, bass

Additional content:
Program notes for all compositions
Interview with Virtual Tour co-directors Mark Dresser and Michael Dessen

Locations and dates/times:

San Diego location for all 3 performances:
Conrad Prebys Music Center Theatre, University of California, San Diego, CA

For Amherst Concert:
7pm PDT/10pm EDT, April 5, 2013
Buckley Recital Hall, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
For Zurich Concert:
12pm PDT/9pm CET, April 6, 2013
Institute for Computer Music and Technology (ICST), Zurich, Switzerland

For Stony Brook Concert:
4pm PDT/7pm EDT, April 7, 2013
Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, with support from Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture and Technology (cDACT), Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

Production Credits:

Project Directors:
Co-directors of Virtual Tour: Mark Dresser and Michael Dessen
Amherst site director: Jason Robinson
Zurich site director: Matthias Ziegler
Stony Brook site director: Sarah Weaver

In San Diego, CA:
Trevor Henthorn, technology director
Josef Kucera, technology consultant
Antonio Estrada and Andrew Johnson, local audio
Isaac Garcia Muñoz, network audio
Michael Ricca, audio recording
Daniel Ross, recording assistant
Yeung-ping Chen, network video
Kyle Johnson and Ash Smith, documentation video
Jennifer Bewerse, promotion design

In Amherst, MA:
Edmund Keyes, production assistant
Mark Santolucito, production assistant, audio networking
Joshua Baum, production assistant, video networking
Dan Richardson, sound engineer
Rob Ansaldo, networking assistance
Sara Leonard, lighting
Ross Karre and company, video documentation

In Zurich, Switzerland:
Johannes Schütt, network director
Joel de Giovanni and Benjamin Burger, video direction
Daniel Späti, stage director
Simon Könz, sound engineer

In Stony Brook, NY:
Kevin Schinstock, live audio, audio recording
Derek Kwan, network audio
Timothy Vallier, network video
Ross Karre and company, live video, video documentation
Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, lighting

Post-production:
Audio mixing/mastering: Michael Dessen, Jason Robinson, Stephanie Robinson, Kevin Schinstock, Sarah Weaver, Gerry Hemingway, and Joe Branciforte
Video editing: Ross Karre
DVD production: Trevor Henthorn
Graphic design: Ted Killian

pfMENTUM DVD094
PFMDVD094

Michael Vlatkovich: Mortality (PFMCD091)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="569"]
ensemblio:
michael vlatkovich: trombone
dan clucas: trumpet
jill torberson: french horn
bill plake: tenor sax
david riddles: bassoon, flute, soprano sax, clarinet
andrew pask: alto sax, bari sax, bass clarinet
bill roper: tuba, bombardondino
harry scorzo: violin
jonathan golove: cello
tom mcnalley: guitar
dominic genova: bass 
wayne peet: piano, keyboard
carol sawyer: voice
ken park: all percussion

[NOTE: do to a printing error, track 4 was left off the package. What you see below is correct.]

1. adeptly disguised as chairs and tables the audience listened quietly — 9:08
2. as quickly as it came — 6:31
3. or do you have change for a $20 — 5:25
4. out of the wall and into the night — 5:27
5. sometimes a red nose and big shoes aren’t enough — 2:33
6. mortality — 11:32
7. hiding out as a verb — 5:49
8. goodbye — 7:06

© 2015 julius ivory music, ascap
music composed m vlatkovich
recorded 2014 wayne peet engineer
edited mixed and mastered sept. 2014
front photo chuck britt
back photo bill roper
design jeff kaiser

pfMENTUM CD091

PFMCD091

Michael Vlatkovich Septet: Ask 7 (PFMCD089)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="567"]
ask 7 michael vlatkovich septet

michael vlatkovich: trombone, compositions
ron miles: cornet
wade sander: bass trombone
mark harris: alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
glenn nitta: tenor sax
kent mclagen: bass
chris lee: drums

1) innumerable mementos of the distant ought-to-be forgottenbut dishearteningly omnipresent never-to-be forgotten past 5:26
2) madam why 10:21
3) 1 3/4 southeast 593,212 avenue apartment zz ask for 7 5:49
4) missing C the limbless percussion just couldn't dance 6:26
5) chair red blue medley 16:27
6) the eventual supremacy of reason 5:00
7) maybe another time 3:26
total 53:09

© 2015 julius ivory music, ascap
recorded 6.9.14 in denver by ron jolly
edited/mixed/mastered 10.14.14 newzone studio los angeles
wayne peet, engineer
jill torberson, artwork
jeff kaiser, design

pfMENTUM CD089

PFMCD089

Odeya Nini: Vougheauxyice (Voice) (PFMCD083)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="551"]
Vougheauxyice (Voice)

Odeya Nini: Voice

1. Mi See Ti 3:37
2. Dalai 6:16
3. Everyday Cantor 3:07
4. Idiomia 4:35
5. Tunnel 6:22
6. Tapestry of Synonyms 6:34
7. There Are So Many Things That I Have To Tell You 9:52
8. Cyclicality 6:36

1-4 were recorded in a private home in Joshua Tree, CA, September 25, 2012.
5 was recorded in an aqueduct in San Francisquito Canyon, CA, April 1, 2013.
7 was recorded at California Institute for the Arts, June 2012.

All tracks except 7 were recorded and mixed by Justin Asher
7 was recorded and mixed by Brian Saia
6 was edited by Odeya Nini
Mastered by Joe Panzner

Except for track 6, all of the pieces are in a single take, no editing. 1-5 are compositions with an open form. There is a compositional road map, but they are not performed the same way twice. 7 and 8 are improvised. Several microphones where set up in the space for 1-5, allowing for the voice to be recorded with movement and gesturing.

Photography – Adeline Newmann and Odeya Nini
Design and layout – Thea Lorentzen
Art – Saul Alpert Abrams

NOTES:

Vougheauxyice (Voice)

The voice is an instrument that both listens and reveals. It takes from all that is around us and all that is inside us as it communicates a free and composed response outward. In this work I explore the language of the voice like a dancer. I think of shape, form, gesture and the vast range of motion in the voice’s movement through space. The voice is often thought of as intangible, but in this work I try to mold its natural physical tendencies, sensing its vibrations, and feeling the touch of its waves on my skin and in my bones.

Mi See Ti

A simple melody alluding false solfege syllables that repeat themselves, diverging more and more. A play with forms of interpretation from contained and proper, to unruly swells.

In performance this piece incorporates theatrical elements, changes of facial expression and a collapsing of the body to the floor between each iteration. It questions ideas of beauty in the voice, presentation, intention, the relationship and cohesion (or negation) of the body’s expression simultaneous to the expression of the voice, and the role of the singer as an exhibitionist.

Dalai

Dalai was written while spending time in Mongolia in the summer of 2012. I learned that the meaning of the word Dalai, that we know so well from Dalai Lama, means ocean in Mongolian. Traveling in the Gobi desert, the power of the wind was omnipresent, and absolutely striking to me. It was possible to see the storms and changes of weather traversing the endlessly flat desert from miles away—often surprisingly quick—bringing gusts more powerful than I had ever experienced. Every turn of the head gave variation to the sound of the howling wind: so violent at times and peaceful in its aftermath. The obsession with wind was an easy to acquire, the more I listened, the more I realized the sound of crashing waves and the ocean’s movements were the sounds of wind. In a landlocked country such as Mongolia, I sensed the ocean all around me. Wind, ocean, breath.

Everyday Cantor

Everyday Cantor features voice and field recording. The sounds of sacred song in the everyday act of showering. Is there a difference between singing in a cathedral or singing under the shower head? The devotional voice reveals itself and then becomes drenched in everyday simplicity.

Idiomia

Inspired by random sequences of bird calls and the meaning that comes out of non verbal sonic communication. The answer is in the ear of the beholder. The voice has dynamic expression, calls, yells, gentle flutters, overtones, ingressive and egressive breathing. What is it saying? The mind wants to distill the voice, but allow it to migrate.

Tunnel

Tunnel is an improvisation on a traditional Yemenite Jewish folk song called Tzur Manoti. My Yemenite roots have always been strong in me, I see them on my face, and hear them in my voice. I often question how I fit along the continuum of my spiritually devoted ancestors, having arrived at this experimental art form. In this song I find a passageway between who I am today and the narrative of kindred souls. The result is a contemporary translation which keeps me present in my explorations (and realizations) of free form, allying me with my deep past.

Tapestry of Synonyms

We are what we hear. A collage of field recordings collected over the last four years including goats, monks, trains, plates, horses, helicopters, microwaves, wind storms, rain on tents, creaking cabinet doors, dragging chairs, tin foil crumbling, fire crackling, locks clacking, teeth brushing, family and friends from California, New York, Mexico, Mongolia Italy and Israel.

The collection of textures from our environment are juxtaposed with the voice, which we often do not consider as related. However, whether in texture or song, we do find part of our surroundings, mimicking, blending, connecting.

There is only reverb added to some of these field recordings. Besides being sliced and pasted, there are no other manipulation or altering effects.

The voice of Archie Carey, my grandmother Rachel Nini and my parents David and Tamar Nini are included.

There Are So Many Things that I Have To Tell You

Language can be tricky, slippery and twofold. This piece is a stream of consciousness improvisation with words, surfacing moods and thoughts otherwise submerged.

I sit in front of my loop pedal and amp, not knowing what stories will emerge, and allow them to flow. No story quite like the last, It is always a new and exciting journey.

Cyclicality

One voice layers on another, and another and another, shifting, morphing, coasting.

Beneath all these layers, I am still only one.

Thank you to all these wonderful people and places who created this album with their patient and skillful talents, generosity, inspiration and love. Endless gratitude.

Justin Asher, Joe Panzner, Brian Saia, Julie Tolentino + Feral Studios, CalArts, Adeline Newmann, Saul Alpert Abrams, Thea Lorentzen, Pieter Performance Space, Gerry Hemingway (for teaching me that music is sound in time), and ALL the incredible people who supported this album on Kickstarter.

Thank you to my dear family, Achinoam, Roy, Sharra, to my grandmother Rachel whose voice of many lives always plays in my ear, and especially to my parents David and Tamar Nini for their endless unquestioning love and support. My voice is your voice.

. . . and to Archie, for absolutely everything. This album is for you.

pfMENTUM CD083

PFMCD083

Jeff Denson and Joshua White: I’ll Fly Away (PFMCD081)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="547"]
I’ll Fly Away

Jeff Denson: Double Bass
Joshua White: Piano

1. I’ll Fly Away (Version One) (Albert E. Brumley) 4:34
2. Lord, I Want to be a Christian (African American Spiritual) 5:19
3. Down at the Cross (Elisha A. Hoffman/John H. Stockton) 5:22
4. Amazing Grace (Anonymous) 5:47
5. I’ll Fly Away (Version Two) (Albert E. Brumley) 3:53
6. What a Friend We Have in Jesus (Charles Crozat Converse) 6:11
7. When the Saints Go Marching In (Anonymous) 4:12
8. Just As I Am (Charlotte Elliot/William B. Bradbury) 3:57
9. Crying in the Chapel (Artie Glenn) 3:10
10. In the Garden (C. Austin Miles) 5:04
11. I’ll Fly Away (Version Three) (Albert E. Brumley) 2:41

Recorded and Mixed by Adam Munoz at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA March 4-5, 2013
Mastered by Myles Boisen at Headless Buddha Studios in Oakland, CA on December 28, 2013

Art and Layout by Ted Killian

“I’ll Fly Away” Copyright 1960 by Albert E. Brumley & Sons. Used by permission.
“Crying in the Chapel” Copyright 1953 by Unichappell Music Inc. Used by permission.

This recording is dedicated to my grandmother, Bonnie Denson whose unwavering faith and joyous spirit have been an inspiration to all whom have had the pleasure to know her and my to mother, Gwen Denson for her love, support and friendship. Without family we are lost.

pfMENTUM CD081

PFMCD081

Steuart Liebig / Tee-Tot Quartet: Always Outnumbered (PFMCD053)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="473,475"]
Steuart Liebig/Tee-Tot Quartet

Joseph Berardi: drumset, percussion
Dan Clucas: cornet
Scot Ray: dobro
Steuart Liebig: contrabassguitar

Tracks

07-04-00 4:58
serenade 5:06
wrong how long 4:00
stutterstep 4:26
fearless 7:49
clean, shaved and sober 3:52
bobtail 1:54
cooked and chopped 3:15
chucktown 4:17
mercy kitchen 7:26
sunshine candy 4:24
barrelfoot grind 4:26
lonewolf 4:28

© 2008 steuart liebig/
sisong music (ascap)
www.stigsite.com

artwork and layout by Steuart Liebig
cover photos by Scot Ray
band photos by Tee-Tot Quartet
recorded by Wayne Peet, assisted by Aaron Druckman, at Newzone Studio, Los Angeles, 19–20 May 2007
mixed by Wayne Peet and Steuart Liebig, July–August 2007
Steuart Liebig uses Fodera basses and Fodera roundwound strings, the Raven Labs PMB-1 and pickups by Rick Turner
Joe Berardi uses Paiste cymbals and attack drums heads
big thanks to Tee-Tot, Wayne Peet, Jeff Kaiser, and Leslie Rosdol, Anya Liebig and Aron Liebig

Always Outnumbered

. . . is an unholy transfiguration of the jazz and blues canon—a perverted translation of the sacred 78s of Chicago jazz and blues circa 1920–1950 into a more sinister modern dialect. On the opening track, 07-04-00, you can hear some noxious sonic concoction brewing, an aural hormetic designed to make you stronger if you can survive the cocktail.

Tee-Tot are expatriate pioneers that flew a few light-years past Europe and landed in a neighboring multiverse with fewer happy endings. These four veterans of the Los Angeles new music scene bring something completely different to each tune, different from the last tune and different from anything you normally hear on their respective instruments.

Joe Berardi is a medium for myriad gods of groove. He’s a maniacal Baby Dodds wielding his contraption for the dark side on Sunshine Candy, an angry Fred Below demonstrating primal scream therapy through the art of the shuffle on Chucktown and on Serenade he’s a fallen military snare player tapping ‘help me die’ in Morse code in vain.

Steuart Liebig constructs wide melodic avenues through the hostile landscapes of convoluted tunes like Wrong How Long. As heard on Cooked and Chopped he uses compelling melodies to drive the band from beneath instead of walking the well-worn footpaths of predictable chord progressions. He reinvents the bass role as an interactive melodic instrument in contrast to the bebop obsession of “chasing a melodic rat around a harmonic maze.” He’s also comfortable playing little or nothing at all for large patches, as on Fearless, an oblique tribute to Mingus—a “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” for a lost and dispirited Lester Young.

Dan Clucas channels a deranged Cootie Williams, commands a gaggle of nuclear geese and employs various subsonic pitches possibly responsible for climate change. He employs all manner of ornamentation and virtual pedals from a very ill-mannered velar growl to a vibrato that would have made Clara Rockmore nervous. On Clean, Shaved and Sober, he celebrates the decline of a late-stage Bix Beiderbecke suffering from years of poor-grade Prohibition-era alcohol.

Scot Ray possesses a wide arsenal of portamento that would make any carnatic pandit blush. A seemingly infinite variety of sounds come out of his dobro’s resonator, from distressed ermine lamentations to the wailing of the damned. Considering today’s totalitarian atmosphere, Scot’s frenetic picking, rubbery phrasing and anxiety-provoking note choices on Stutterstep alone should earn him a place on a government list. Somewhere in hell an unfortunate freshman soul attempts to decipher his solo on Barrelfoot Grind.

Contemporary jazz and blues music lies wasting in a gurney of predictable mimicry, its circulation gone sluggish, its pulse nearly arrested as it grows more necrotic by the year. Tee-Tot debrides the bed sores of the sedentary modern roots scene.

Steuart has more than a few bands. They are all distinct from one another, draw from disparate sources and are all degenerate—in the best sense of the word. The dozen or so albums from these groups have explored everything from Muddy Waters to Anton Webern. There’s never a shortage of great melodies or superb improvisation, and this disc is no exception.

–Bill Barrett, Los Ageles, January 2008

pfMENTUM CD053

PFMCD053

Colter Frazier: The Colter Frazier Quartet (PFMCD052)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="471"]
Rob Wallace: drums/percussion
Miles Jay: bass
Nick Coventry: viola/violin
Colter Frazier: tenor saxophone

Recorded (May 20–21, 2008) and mixed/mastered (June 4 and 14, 2008)
by Wayne Peet, Newzone Studio, Los Angeles, CA

Produced by Colter Frazier

Cover painting “Dream” by Nikola Toplev, http://www.nikolatoplev.com
(used by permission of the artist)

Band photos by Kara Attrep

Graphic assistance by Ted Killian

Special thanks to Jeff Kaiser, Chloe Coventry and Brian Twoomy, and to Pavlov Art Gallery in Solvang, CA

1. Lloyd’s Prayer (7:55)
2. Hopes of Reunification (5:45)
3. Where000 (5:27)
4. 4 Days and 5 Months (4:39)
5. August Ballad (3:04)
6. Late Again (6:04)
7. Flight School for Sparrow (5:58)
8. Unknown Strain II (4:50)
9. Lunch with Osby (5:32)
10. Lonely Friday (3:46)
11. 1-22-07 (2:56)
12. Focus (5:19)

All compositions by Colter Frazier (©2008 Colter Frazier Music, ASCAP)
except “Flight School for Sparrow,” composed by Miles Jay

pfMENTUM CD052

PFMCD052

Colter Frazier and Rob Wallace Duo (PFMCD048)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="463"]
Tenor Sax: Colter Frazier
Percussion: Rob Wallace

1. Prelude (5:38)
2. The Creek (6:55)
3. Banana Sandwich (5:56)
4. Ballad (6:12)
5. TGC (8:03)
6. Factory (8:33)
7. Vignette 1 (1:46)
8. Vignette 2 (1:30)
9. Vignette 3 (1:16)
10. The Window (3:40)

All Music © 2007 Colter Frazier Music (ASCAP) and RNAWALLACE MUSIC (ASCAP)

Special thanks to Steve Jay, Miles Jay, Wayne Peet, Jeff Kaiser,
Tessa Dickinson, Ted Coe, Danielle Siano, and YOU.
These improvisations were recorded by Miles Jay at Muse Ranch on March 18th, 2007. They were mixed by Miles Jay and mastered by Wayne Peet at Newzone Studio, Los Angeles, on July 30th, 2007.
CD tray photo by Ted Coe. Inner sleeve photo by Tessa Dickinson. Graphic Design by Danielle Siano.

pfMENTUM CD048

PFMCD048

The Empty Cage Quartet: Hello the Damage! (PFMCD040)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="446"]
Jason Mears: alto saxophone, clarinet, wood flutes
Kris Tiner: trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Kikuchi: drums, percussion
Ivan Johnson: contrabass

Disc 1: First Set (24:20 / 21:17)
1. Attack of the Eye People (Mears)
Who Are They If We Are Them? (Mears)
The Mactavish Rag (Tiner)
2. And Who Is Not Small (Tiner)
Function-3 (Tiner)

Disc 2: Second Set (42:57)
1. Swan-Neck Deformity (Kikuchi)
The Empty Cage (Mears)
Swim Swim Swim, Eat Eat Eat (Mears)

Recorded live at Café Metropol in Los Angeles, California on Friday, December 30, 2005
Recorded live to two track by Paul Kikuchi
Mastered by David Christensen and Paul Kikuchi
Cover photo and album design: Kio Griffith
Band photos: Allen D. Glass II
Thank you to Kio Griffith, Misato Nagare, Dottie Grossman, David Christensen, Rocco Somazzi, Allen D. Glass II, Jeff Kaiser and Vinny Golia
© 2006 Jason Mears Music, ASCAP and Kris Tiner Music, ASCAP
For more information: www.mtkjquartet.com

Finale
When the camera pulls back
on people you care about
because you have followed
their story all season
and you know
what makes them happy
and what hurts them
and you love them
and want to protect them,
that’s your cue to sit back,
let the music take care of them now.

When I wrote that, I wasn’t thinking about The Empty Cage Quartet, but I see a connection. They share a common view, something about expansiveness or maybe a sense of what I can only call “mission.” These guys actually care about us, and want to make us better through their musical example, God help them. It’s a tall order, admittedly, but saxophonist Jason Mears and trumpeter Kris Tiner talk seriously about the band as a positive model for social change, incorporating and expanding upon what they learned under the tutelage of people like Wadada Leo Smith and Vinny Golia.

Mears, Tiner, Kikuchi and Johnson (“The MTKJ;” now “The Empty Cage Quartet”) came together at The California Institute of the Arts, in Southern California, circa 2002. They began playing music that was admittedly “horrible” (Kris Tiner’s word), at first, but which has evolved to a very telepathic kind of communication that transcends historical models of creative new music and almost doesn’t require language in its usual sense. They’re bent on transcending the clichés of “free jazz,” with its historically associated bias toward self-expression at the expense of everything else. They all contribute tunes and are dedicated to finding ways of getting around traditional improvisation and composition, to create music that is “continuous” and spontaneous. At the same time, in their musical explorations, they incorporate and honor the earlier forms they want to transcend. There is, for example, homage to without imitation of the Anthony Braxton and Ornette Coleman quartets.

So they use a system which in effect means that, in performance, any player can cue a composition at any time. For that to work on a level that approaches art requires the ability to almost literally read each other’s minds. Forget about not paying attention. Forget about playing on chord changes. It’s very akin to linking arms and jumping off the proverbial edge-of-the-cliff. It takes enormous mutual trust, acquired through the time-honored method of playing and touring. It is a truism that there’s no substitute for playing together a lot over a period of time in different settings and circumstances. The bonding that emerges from this kind of intensity has created, for these four, a unity that is probably more rock-solid than that of most “real” families.

And that makes them happy. They like it when audiences are touched and even inspired by the music they make together. Drummer Kikuchi tells about a gig in Olympia, WA, when the audience behaved as if they were at a rock show, yelling and “getting into” the show, letting the music take them to new places.

A word about the title of this CD: “Hello the Damage” was the all-too-literal English translation of part of a French review damning the group’s last CD. Anyone familiar with the often hilarious nonsense masquerading as “translation” on the Babelfish web site will sympathize.

This is a band whose musical growth rate has been amazing. They’re dedicated to doing something new, and the strength of their musicianship and vision are collectively and individually impressive enough to make that happen.

I’m going to leave the last word (well, almost) here to Kris Tiner, who, talking about how much he appreciates the work of Thelonious Monk, Charles Ives and Morton Feldman, says, “You can tell they love music.” Amen.

Dottie Grossman
Los Angeles, CA
April, 2006

[Ed. from a reviewer friend: This expression (in french “bonjour les dégâts…”, “damage” is a plural in french, it makes it more spectacular) became famous after is was used in an advertisement against alcohol when driving : “Un verre ça va, trois verres bonjour les dégâts” “One drink is alright, three drinks, hello the damage” : nobody speaks about 2 drinks, the case becomes a hole where reason gets drowned).]

pfMENTUM CD040

PFMCD040