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

Jason Robinson / Janus Ensemble: Resonant Geographies (PFMLP115)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="1360"]

PLEASE NOTE: THIS PAGE IS FOR PURCHASING THE DOUBLE LP (VINYL) VERSION.
Please click here for the CD.

Resonant Geographies
Jason Robinson

Jason Robinson’s Janus Ensemble:
Jason Robinson—tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute
JD Parran—alto and contra alto clarinets, bass flute
Oscar Noriega—Bb and bass clarinets, alto saxophone
Marty Ehrlich—bass clarinet, alto saxophone, flute
Michael Dessen—trombone
Bill Lowe—bass trombone, tuba
Marcus Rojas—tuba
Liberty Ellman—guitar
Drew Gress—bass
George Schuller—drums
Ches Smith—drums, glockenspiel

Recorded at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY, January 5-6, 2016
Engineered and mixed by Mike Marciano
Produced by Jason Robinson
Recording session produced by Steph Robinson
Recording session assistant: Jamie Sandel
Mastered by Rich Breen, Dogmatic Studios, Burbank, CA
All images by David Gloman. Cover, West Worthington Falls, 2016, 17×21 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side A label, Bear Den Falls, 2016, 17×22 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side B label, Westfield River, 2016, 17×21 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side C label, Gold in Brook Falls, 2016, 11×14 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side D label, Gunn Brook Falls, 2015, 18×23 inches, acrylic on paper (detail).
Photography by Scott Friedlander, (c) 2016, used with permission
Graphic design by Ted Killian

Track Titles:

Side A:
Facing East (10:41)
Futures Unimagined (8:12)

Side B:
Confluence (6:55)
Dreaming (8:24)

Side C:
Facing West (6:31)
Circuitry Unbound (8:44)

Side D:
Outcropping (12:14)

All compositions by Jason Robinson (ASCAP)
All rights reserved ℗ and © 2018 Jason Robinson

https://youtu.be/-43JeWvAKRI

Arriving in Montreal in the middle of the Janus Ensemble tour, I watched as my fellow trombonist Bill Lowe wrangled his enormous tuba and bass trombone cases out of the van, through sub-zero winds and icy sidewalks, and into the tiny club where we’d soon perform. This would be a challenge for someone half Bill’s age, but he was unfazed, focused only on warming up all that metal in time for the soundcheck.

We’d been driving all day and I’d spent much of it listening to Bill’s inspiring stories. For a half century, he’s contributed to expanding the ways that African American music is understood, starting out working with celebrated musical innovators in 1960s London and 1970s New York City and continuing through an extensive career that encompasses music making, community engagement, festival organizing, and academic work. As Taylor Ho Bynum points out, despite all this, Bill has “existed somewhat under the radar, partly because he’s been equally committed to teaching and scholarship throughout his career, and partly because the top-down, star-focused version of jazz history rarely leaves room for the artists in the trenches who are the lifeblood of the music.”1

That night, this “lifeblood” was a large band crammed onto the stage without a spare inch, working through a wide-ranging set of Jason Robinson’s music. “Futures Unimagined,” a piece we played and also part of this album, is typical of Jason’s compositional range and sensibility. It begins with an introduction where the only indication in the score is “collective improvisation – start sparse,” giving the band time for a spacious, internal dialogue that differs wildly each time, but eventually coalesces into more intricate notations and then a blues-inflected song form. There, one lush, recurring melodic phrase is scored for trombone on top of clarinets, an allusion to a specific color and orchestration developed by Duke Ellington in his 1930 composition “Mood Indigo.” As if to heighten the connection, Bill’s brilliant trombone solo on this piece combines throat growling and a harmon mute in his own version of a technique pioneered by Ellington’s trombonist “Tricky” Sam Nanton. Eventually the piece ends with a flourish of improvisational dialogue among two drumset players, George Schuller and Ches Smith, cutting to a sparse snare drum gesture played eight times in perfect unison by both drummers, an elusive and only temporary closure before we continue to the next chapter of the suite.

Almost a century ago, Duke Ellington’s early ensemble music helped establish an important new practice of composing music not only for specific instruments, but also for individual improvisers, drawing on each musician’s personal sound for inspiration and raw material. It’s an approach that has since expanded in infinite directions, especially in African American-based improvised music, but always with a powerful dialectic at its core: It depends on and highlights individuality, and it’s also a deeply collective mode of creativity.

That spirit infuses Resonant Geographies, an extended suite Jason has composed for these eleven improvisers, most of whom have performed in his Janus Ensemble since 2008. Compositionally, the suite is a series of sonic reflections on specific locations that have been important to Jason, each movement a kind of tone poem moving through a range of textures and forms related to that memory. But the suite is just as much animated by musical geographies, both those of the improvisers in this band who bring different relationships to jazz traditions, and those of the composers past and present whose influences echo throughout the score, filtered through Jason’s own compositional sensibility.

Multi-reedist J.D. Parran is another individual who has inspired both Jason and me for many years and brings his unique history to this album. Reflecting on his experience growing up in inner city St. Louis during the 1960s, J.D. describes how he was fortunate to have excellent school music teachers that were part of the “talented tenth group of African American educators.” He comments that these teachers, many of whom had recently migrated from the south, were “very, very special in what they had to go through—in mostly traditionally black colleges and universities—to get their education, and the rigorous kind of training that they received.”2

Rigor: “The quality of being extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate.” I associate this quality with Parran himself, one of those rare people I’d describe as a master musician. He’s achieved astonishing technique on multiple reed instruments, including less common ones such as the bass saxophone and alto clarinet, and he’s worked as both an interpreter and an improviser across wide-ranging forms of contemporary music, from his early years with mentors in the Black Artist Group (BAG), an important St. Louis collective, through graduate-level formal training and decades of trans-disciplinary, creative collaborations based in New York City. As an improviser, he’s woven all of these diverse experiences into a “very, very special” sound all his own.

I first heard J.D. in the late 1990s, at a solo concert on which he played several reed instruments. I remember being especially stunned by his interpretation of “St. Louis Blues” on bass clarinet. Thinking back now on his sound, I’m reminded of these words:
“In the context of improvised musics that exhibit strong influences from African- American ways of music-making, musical sound—or rather, ‘one’s own sound’—becomes a carrier for history and cultural identity. As Yusef Lateef maintains, ‘The sound of the improvisation seems to tell us what kind of person is improvising. We feel that we can hear character or personality in the way the musician improvises.’”3 —George E. Lewis4

For this album, one place where Jason features J.D. is on “Dreaming,” the middle movement of the suite. Midway into the piece, J.D. interprets a melody that Jason composed to highlight the unique timbre of the alto clarinet, shifting between gradient inflection and incredible precision of pitch with a rich, fluid tone. He then improvises a solo that slowly blooms across multiple registers and propels the band through a kaleidescopic transformation, interacting especially with the dense, rhythmic composite coming from the two drummers. Here as in many other moments on this album, George and Ches are expert alchemists, constantly discovering new ways to mix their two distinct drumset sounds in a dialogue that grounds the band but is always shifting.

In the final section of “Dreaming,” the ensemble navigates a scored section of tempo shifts and dramatic gestures for low brass and reeds. These two effects together make for another historical citation, as specific as the Ellington one: here the reference is to the second movement of Charles Mingus’ album The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, a landmark recording in the history of long-form suites composed for improvisers.

Hearing this Mingus trace isn’t necessary for enjoying the track’s explosive ending, but the point is that this model of composition always includes such imaginary dialogues, honoring one’s sources in ways that range from explicit to oblique. And the references aren’t always to the distant past—for example, the hocketed texture scored for two tubas and trombone over a churning rhythm section in “Facing West” points towards the work of contemporary composer Henry Threadgill, whose imaginative bands Jason has cited as a formative influence on the instrumentation of the Janus Ensemble. Here again, Jason’s choice of soloist adds to this connection, as this music launches into an otherworldly solo by virtuoso tubist Marcus Rojas, one of several musicians in this band who has played in Threadgill’s ensembles.

This interweaving of personal and collective histories is a reminder of something important about developing one’s “own sound”: you don’t do it alone. This kind of music requires extensive solitary practice and study, but our sounds as improvisers also evolve through infinite reactions and interactions with others, including the musicians we work with and others we know only through records, like the one you are holding now.

This is Jason’s third recording with the Janus Ensemble, which he has been leading in flexible configurations since 2008. All the musicians on this album have been part of the ensemble since then, except for two new additions on this record, the phenomenal reed player Oscar Noriega and myself on trombone. Though I’m new to the Janus ensemble, Jason and I have been close collaborators and friends for about 20 years, working in numerous bands and projects together. We first met when he moved to San Diego for the same reason I did: to study music with George Lewis and Anthony Davis in a graduate program at UC San Diego

Lewis and Davis radically expanded the questions we were asking about music and inspired us in endless ways. They modeled a creative practice that is rigorous in craft, wide open in creative possibility, and always with a thoughtful, complex and individual connection to the world. They encouraged us to develop our own communities and our own music, not just adopt theirs, but they also introduced us, figuratively and literally, to many other artists who would become important inspirations and mentors, including J.D. Parran and Marty Ehrlich, both on this record.

When I first met Jason, he had been playing on various scenes in northern California and had been mentored by the late Mel Graves, a bassist who ran a vibrant and highly original jazz program at Sonoma State University. Jason was immersed in music with typical intensity, having already released an album of his music on his own label while still in his early 20s. He was inquisitive, deep into the saxophone, creating music with darting, angular lines and exuberant grooves. His music had a driving quality, an optimistic, forward momentum, but always with a sense of openness to shifts in direction, whether subtle or extreme.

I still hear that same musical DNA in Jason’s sound, but deepened through two decades of work and expanded to a broader palette through collaborations like this one. This suite is carefully crafted to feature all of the improvisers in both solo and collective contexts while also covering a wide-ranging compositional terrain. Some sections delve deep into texture and sound, either through detailed score notations that exploit the band’s unusual instrumentation, or through improvisations set within imaginative backdrops. Other stretches of music revel in the rich rhythmic and harmonic language of jazz traditions, sometimes recalling the buoyant energies of early big band music and other times with a more abstract lens that evokes later “creative orchestra” explorations. What ties it all together and makes the work a long-form composition rather than just a sequence of varied parts is the dialogue among these different soundworlds, not just between movements but within them; none of the tracks end where they begin, and each travels unpredictably through a different blend of historical references, individual expressions and sonic explorations.

The band you hear on this record is diverse in generation as well as musical backgrounds, and along with those mentioned above, the lineup includes other equally renowned composer-improvisers. Multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich, like J.D. Parran, began his long history of contributions to this music working with musicians from BAG and the AACM in St. Louis during the late 1960s, and over the decades since has created a wide-ranging body of creative work as a composer and collaborator. The versatile bassist and composer Drew Gress has long been one of the most in-demand improvisers on the NYC scene, grounding bands led by an incredible range of contemporary innovators, and the same can be said of acclaimed guitarist and composer Liberty Ellman, another musician here connected to Henry Threadgill, in Liberty’s case through working closely with Threadgill over many years alongside his own projects.

This band encompasses a fascinating cross-section of jazz-inspired contemporary music scenes, broad and difficult to categorize, but one thread running through the Janus Ensemble and Jason’s music is the idea that this wide range of creative expression and method is central to jazz traditions, and always has been. Many people in the jazz industry still seem eager to reinforce old fault lines and put every new record in a particular box, with avant-garde flavors on one side and “traditional” ones on the other. But music like this embodies a more expansive stance, a recognition that a wide spectrum of expressive possibilities is always present to begin with, endlessly woven into new forms by individuals responding to changing contexts. Speaking in Arthur Taylor’s classic 1972 book of musician-to-musician interviews, the great drummer Philly Joe Jones harshly critiques “bag carriers” who superficially imitate the screams of the avant-garde, but he also cites artists like John Coltrane to distinguish experimentalists who are committed to a deep, integrative craft. In response to a question about “freedom music,” Jones deftly deconstructs conventional discursive boundaries by commenting that “everybody’s been playing free. Every time you play a solo you’re free to play what you want to play. That’s freedom right there.”5 I hope you can enjoy this new music by Jason Robinson and the Janus Ensemble in that spirit. Thanks for listening. — Michael Dessen

Works cited
1. Taylor Ho Bynum, “Guest Post: Taylor Ho Bynum on Bill Lowe,” in Destination: Out, Feb. 1, 2012, accessed June 20, 2017 <http://destination-out.com/?p=3384>.
2. Interview with J.D. Parran by Yusef Jones, accessed June 2017: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMYc63l6OMg>.
3. Yusef A. Lateef, “The Pleasures of Voice in Improvised Music,” in Roberta Thelwell, ed., Views on Black American Music: Selected Proceedings from the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Annual Black Musicians’ Conferences, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, No. 3 (1985–1988) pp. 43–46.
4. George E. Lewis, “Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in ‘Voyager,’” Leonardo Music Journal, Vol. 10 (2000), pp. 33-39.
5. Art Taylor. Notes and Tones : Musician-to-Musician Interviews. New York: Da Capo Press, 1993, pp. 47-48.
_______________________________________________________
Resonant Geographies is a meditation on place, memory, relationships, and community. Each movement of the suite is inspired by specific places, a canvas of various experiences and memories for me over a number of years. These are not the sounds of places in a narrow sense, but what is contained here might as well be considered a sounding of those places. A subtle but important distinction. A proportion, a relationship, a scent, a feeling. Like the shifting translucent blues and oranges of a rejuvenating and boundless sunset along the north coast of California, or the warm embraces or knowing glances of friends and loved ones, this project is a process. It continues to unfold. Great heartache, struggle, discovery, and rebirth accompanied/s its long stages. My heart smiles again. I hope that you, the listener, find yourself in the sounds contained here. And I hope we are all guided by compassion and empathy as we sound places, relationships, communities.

This album is dedicated to George Finney Thomason.

I’ve been drawn to the ocean for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are standing on giant rocks extending into the majestic Pacific some four hours north of San Francisco, while staring with amazement at the spray created by crashing waves, enchanted by the patterns of mussels on rocks, the endless volume of water, the mysterious and beckoning horizon. And the smell—salt, seaweed, richly moist, oxygenated air. I feel at home in this wondrous meeting of water, land, and air. I can still see my great grandfather standing on the bluffs, the rocks, the beaches, and hear his voice as he guides and encourages me to explore. What kind of place is the vast, unimaginably large expanse of the ocean? — Jason Robinson

Deepest thanks to my musical collaborators and friends heard on this recording, whose collaborative spirits and finely tuned personal sound approaches make immeasurable contributions to the music. Thanks also to numerous others who helped make this project possible: Mike Marciano, Rich Breen, Jeff Kaiser, Glenn Siegel, Priscilla Page, Matan Rubinstein, Paul Lichter, Eric Lewis, Jim Staley, Jamie Sandel, and my colleagues at Amherst College. And without the love and support of my closest friends and family, none of this would have been possible. Let’s put this on the turntable, Piccolo. It’s about time!

This recording was made possible by the H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life at Amherst College.

pfMENTUM
PFMLP115
www.pfmentum.com

Jason Robinson / Janus Ensemble: Resonant Geographies (PFMCD115)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="1360"]

PLEASE NOTE: THIS PAGE IS FOR PURCHASING THE CD VERSION.
Click here for the double LP (vinyl)

Resonant Geographies
Jason Robinson

Jason Robinson’s Janus Ensemble:
Jason Robinson—tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute
JD Parran—alto and contra alto clarinets, bass flute
Oscar Noriega—Bb and bass clarinets, alto saxophone
Marty Ehrlich—bass clarinet, alto saxophone, flute
Michael Dessen—trombone
Bill Lowe—bass trombone, tuba
Marcus Rojas—tuba
Liberty Ellman—guitar
Drew Gress—bass
George Schuller—drums
Ches Smith—drums, glockenspiel

Recorded at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY, January 5-6, 2016
Engineered and mixed by Mike Marciano
Produced by Jason Robinson
Recording session produced by Steph Robinson
Recording session assistant: Jamie Sandel
Mastered by Rich Breen, Dogmatic Studios, Burbank, CA
All images by David Gloman. Cover, West Worthington Falls, 2016, 17×21 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side A label, Bear Den Falls, 2016, 17×22 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side B label, Westfield River, 2016, 17×21 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side C label, Gold in Brook Falls, 2016, 11×14 inches, acrylic on paper (detail). Side D label, Gunn Brook Falls, 2015, 18×23 inches, acrylic on paper (detail).
Photography by Scott Friedlander, (c) 2016, used with permission
Graphic design by Ted Killian

Track Titles:

Facing East (10:41)
Futures Unimagined (8:12)
Confluence (6:55)
Dreaming (8:24)
Facing West (6:31)
Circuitry Unbound (8:44)
Outcropping (12:14)

All compositions by Jason Robinson (ASCAP)
All rights reserved ℗ and © 2018 Jason Robinson

https://youtu.be/-43JeWvAKRI

Arriving in Montreal in the middle of the Janus Ensemble tour, I watched as my fellow trombonist Bill Lowe wrangled his enormous tuba and bass trombone cases out of the van, through sub-zero winds and icy sidewalks, and into the tiny club where we’d soon perform. This would be a challenge for someone half Bill’s age, but he was unfazed, focused only on warming up all that metal in time for the soundcheck.

We’d been driving all day and I’d spent much of it listening to Bill’s inspiring stories. For a half century, he’s contributed to expanding the ways that African American music is understood, starting out working with celebrated musical innovators in 1960s London and 1970s New York City and continuing through an extensive career that encompasses music making, community engagement, festival organizing, and academic work. As Taylor Ho Bynum points out, despite all this, Bill has “existed somewhat under the radar, partly because he’s been equally committed to teaching and scholarship throughout his career, and partly because the top-down, star-focused version of jazz history rarely leaves room for the artists in the trenches who are the lifeblood of the music.”1

That night, this “lifeblood” was a large band crammed onto the stage without a spare inch, working through a wide-ranging set of Jason Robinson’s music. “Futures Unimagined,” a piece we played and also part of this album, is typical of Jason’s compositional range and sensibility. It begins with an introduction where the only indication in the score is “collective improvisation – start sparse,” giving the band time for a spacious, internal dialogue that differs wildly each time, but eventually coalesces into more intricate notations and then a blues-inflected song form. There, one lush, recurring melodic phrase is scored for trombone on top of clarinets, an allusion to a specific color and orchestration developed by Duke Ellington in his 1930 composition “Mood Indigo.” As if to heighten the connection, Bill’s brilliant trombone solo on this piece combines throat growling and a harmon mute in his own version of a technique pioneered by Ellington’s trombonist “Tricky” Sam Nanton. Eventually the piece ends with a flourish of improvisational dialogue among two drumset players, George Schuller and Ches Smith, cutting to a sparse snare drum gesture played eight times in perfect unison by both drummers, an elusive and only temporary closure before we continue to the next chapter of the suite.

Almost a century ago, Duke Ellington’s early ensemble music helped establish an important new practice of composing music not only for specific instruments, but also for individual improvisers, drawing on each musician’s personal sound for inspiration and raw material. It’s an approach that has since expanded in infinite directions, especially in African American-based improvised music, but always with a powerful dialectic at its core: It depends on and highlights individuality, and it’s also a deeply collective mode of creativity.

That spirit infuses Resonant Geographies, an extended suite Jason has composed for these eleven improvisers, most of whom have performed in his Janus Ensemble since 2008. Compositionally, the suite is a series of sonic reflections on specific locations that have been important to Jason, each movement a kind of tone poem moving through a range of textures and forms related to that memory. But the suite is just as much animated by musical geographies, both those of the improvisers in this band who bring different relationships to jazz traditions, and those of the composers past and present whose influences echo throughout the score, filtered through Jason’s own compositional sensibility.

Multi-reedist J.D. Parran is another individual who has inspired both Jason and me for many years and brings his unique history to this album. Reflecting on his experience growing up in inner city St. Louis during the 1960s, J.D. describes how he was fortunate to have excellent school music teachers that were part of the “talented tenth group of African American educators.” He comments that these teachers, many of whom had recently migrated from the south, were “very, very special in what they had to go through—in mostly traditionally black colleges and universities—to get their education, and the rigorous kind of training that they received.”2

Rigor: “The quality of being extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate.” I associate this quality with Parran himself, one of those rare people I’d describe as a master musician. He’s achieved astonishing technique on multiple reed instruments, including less common ones such as the bass saxophone and alto clarinet, and he’s worked as both an interpreter and an improviser across wide-ranging forms of contemporary music, from his early years with mentors in the Black Artist Group (BAG), an important St. Louis collective, through graduate-level formal training and decades of trans-disciplinary, creative collaborations based in New York City. As an improviser, he’s woven all of these diverse experiences into a “very, very special” sound all his own.

I first heard J.D. in the late 1990s, at a solo concert on which he played several reed instruments. I remember being especially stunned by his interpretation of “St. Louis Blues” on bass clarinet. Thinking back now on his sound, I’m reminded of these words:
“In the context of improvised musics that exhibit strong influences from African- American ways of music-making, musical sound—or rather, ‘one’s own sound’—becomes a carrier for history and cultural identity. As Yusef Lateef maintains, ‘The sound of the improvisation seems to tell us what kind of person is improvising. We feel that we can hear character or personality in the way the musician improvises.’”3 —George E. Lewis4

For this album, one place where Jason features J.D. is on “Dreaming,” the middle movement of the suite. Midway into the piece, J.D. interprets a melody that Jason composed to highlight the unique timbre of the alto clarinet, shifting between gradient inflection and incredible precision of pitch with a rich, fluid tone. He then improvises a solo that slowly blooms across multiple registers and propels the band through a kaleidescopic transformation, interacting especially with the dense, rhythmic composite coming from the two drummers. Here as in many other moments on this album, George and Ches are expert alchemists, constantly discovering new ways to mix their two distinct drumset sounds in a dialogue that grounds the band but is always shifting.

In the final section of “Dreaming,” the ensemble navigates a scored section of tempo shifts and dramatic gestures for low brass and reeds. These two effects together make for another historical citation, as specific as the Ellington one: here the reference is to the second movement of Charles Mingus’ album The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, a landmark recording in the history of long-form suites composed for improvisers.

Hearing this Mingus trace isn’t necessary for enjoying the track’s explosive ending, but the point is that this model of composition always includes such imaginary dialogues, honoring one’s sources in ways that range from explicit to oblique. And the references aren’t always to the distant past—for example, the hocketed texture scored for two tubas and trombone over a churning rhythm section in “Facing West” points towards the work of contemporary composer Henry Threadgill, whose imaginative bands Jason has cited as a formative influence on the instrumentation of the Janus Ensemble. Here again, Jason’s choice of soloist adds to this connection, as this music launches into an otherworldly solo by virtuoso tubist Marcus Rojas, one of several musicians in this band who has played in Threadgill’s ensembles.

This interweaving of personal and collective histories is a reminder of something important about developing one’s “own sound”: you don’t do it alone. This kind of music requires extensive solitary practice and study, but our sounds as improvisers also evolve through infinite reactions and interactions with others, including the musicians we work with and others we know only through records, like the one you are holding now.

This is Jason’s third recording with the Janus Ensemble, which he has been leading in flexible configurations since 2008. All the musicians on this album have been part of the ensemble since then, except for two new additions on this record, the phenomenal reed player Oscar Noriega and myself on trombone. Though I’m new to the Janus ensemble, Jason and I have been close collaborators and friends for about 20 years, working in numerous bands and projects together. We first met when he moved to San Diego for the same reason I did: to study music with George Lewis and Anthony Davis in a graduate program at UC San Diego

Lewis and Davis radically expanded the questions we were asking about music and inspired us in endless ways. They modeled a creative practice that is rigorous in craft, wide open in creative possibility, and always with a thoughtful, complex and individual connection to the world. They encouraged us to develop our own communities and our own music, not just adopt theirs, but they also introduced us, figuratively and literally, to many other artists who would become important inspirations and mentors, including J.D. Parran and Marty Ehrlich, both on this record.

When I first met Jason, he had been playing on various scenes in northern California and had been mentored by the late Mel Graves, a bassist who ran a vibrant and highly original jazz program at Sonoma State University. Jason was immersed in music with typical intensity, having already released an album of his music on his own label while still in his early 20s. He was inquisitive, deep into the saxophone, creating music with darting, angular lines and exuberant grooves. His music had a driving quality, an optimistic, forward momentum, but always with a sense of openness to shifts in direction, whether subtle or extreme.

I still hear that same musical DNA in Jason’s sound, but deepened through two decades of work and expanded to a broader palette through collaborations like this one. This suite is carefully crafted to feature all of the improvisers in both solo and collective contexts while also covering a wide-ranging compositional terrain. Some sections delve deep into texture and sound, either through detailed score notations that exploit the band’s unusual instrumentation, or through improvisations set within imaginative backdrops. Other stretches of music revel in the rich rhythmic and harmonic language of jazz traditions, sometimes recalling the buoyant energies of early big band music and other times with a more abstract lens that evokes later “creative orchestra” explorations. What ties it all together and makes the work a long-form composition rather than just a sequence of varied parts is the dialogue among these different soundworlds, not just between movements but within them; none of the tracks end where they begin, and each travels unpredictably through a different blend of historical references, individual expressions and sonic explorations.

The band you hear on this record is diverse in generation as well as musical backgrounds, and along with those mentioned above, the lineup includes other equally renowned composer-improvisers. Multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich, like J.D. Parran, began his long history of contributions to this music working with musicians from BAG and the AACM in St. Louis during the late 1960s, and over the decades since has created a wide-ranging body of creative work as a composer and collaborator. The versatile bassist and composer Drew Gress has long been one of the most in-demand improvisers on the NYC scene, grounding bands led by an incredible range of contemporary innovators, and the same can be said of acclaimed guitarist and composer Liberty Ellman, another musician here connected to Henry Threadgill, in Liberty’s case through working closely with Threadgill over many years alongside his own projects.

This band encompasses a fascinating cross-section of jazz-inspired contemporary music scenes, broad and difficult to categorize, but one thread running through the Janus Ensemble and Jason’s music is the idea that this wide range of creative expression and method is central to jazz traditions, and always has been. Many people in the jazz industry still seem eager to reinforce old fault lines and put every new record in a particular box, with avant-garde flavors on one side and “traditional” ones on the other. But music like this embodies a more expansive stance, a recognition that a wide spectrum of expressive possibilities is always present to begin with, endlessly woven into new forms by individuals responding to changing contexts. Speaking in Arthur Taylor’s classic 1972 book of musician-to-musician interviews, the great drummer Philly Joe Jones harshly critiques “bag carriers” who superficially imitate the screams of the avant-garde, but he also cites artists like John Coltrane to distinguish experimentalists who are committed to a deep, integrative craft. In response to a question about “freedom music,” Jones deftly deconstructs conventional discursive boundaries by commenting that “everybody’s been playing free. Every time you play a solo you’re free to play what you want to play. That’s freedom right there.”5 I hope you can enjoy this new music by Jason Robinson and the Janus Ensemble in that spirit. Thanks for listening. — Michael Dessen

Works cited
1. Taylor Ho Bynum, “Guest Post: Taylor Ho Bynum on Bill Lowe,” in Destination: Out, Feb. 1, 2012, accessed June 20, 2017 <http://destination-out.com/?p=3384>.
2. Interview with J.D. Parran by Yusef Jones, accessed June 2017: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMYc63l6OMg>.
3. Yusef A. Lateef, “The Pleasures of Voice in Improvised Music,” in Roberta Thelwell, ed., Views on Black American Music: Selected Proceedings from the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Annual Black Musicians’ Conferences, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, No. 3 (1985–1988) pp. 43–46.
4. George E. Lewis, “Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in ‘Voyager,’” Leonardo Music Journal, Vol. 10 (2000), pp. 33-39.
5. Art Taylor. Notes and Tones : Musician-to-Musician Interviews. New York: Da Capo Press, 1993, pp. 47-48.
_______________________________________________________
Resonant Geographies is a meditation on place, memory, relationships, and community. Each movement of the suite is inspired by specific places, a canvas of various experiences and memories for me over a number of years. These are not the sounds of places in a narrow sense, but what is contained here might as well be considered a sounding of those places. A subtle but important distinction. A proportion, a relationship, a scent, a feeling. Like the shifting translucent blues and oranges of a rejuvenating and boundless sunset along the north coast of California, or the warm embraces or knowing glances of friends and loved ones, this project is a process. It continues to unfold. Great heartache, struggle, discovery, and rebirth accompanied/s its long stages. My heart smiles again. I hope that you, the listener, find yourself in the sounds contained here. And I hope we are all guided by compassion and empathy as we sound places, relationships, communities.

This album is dedicated to George Finney Thomason.

I’ve been drawn to the ocean for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are standing on giant rocks extending into the majestic Pacific some four hours north of San Francisco, while staring with amazement at the spray created by crashing waves, enchanted by the patterns of mussels on rocks, the endless volume of water, the mysterious and beckoning horizon. And the smell—salt, seaweed, richly moist, oxygenated air. I feel at home in this wondrous meeting of water, land, and air. I can still see my great grandfather standing on the bluffs, the rocks, the beaches, and hear his voice as he guides and encourages me to explore. What kind of place is the vast, unimaginably large expanse of the ocean? — Jason Robinson

Deepest thanks to my musical collaborators and friends heard on this recording, whose collaborative spirits and finely tuned personal sound approaches make immeasurable contributions to the music. Thanks also to numerous others who helped make this project possible: Mike Marciano, Rich Breen, Jeff Kaiser, Glenn Siegel, Priscilla Page, Matan Rubinstein, Paul Lichter, Eric Lewis, Jim Staley, Jamie Sandel, and my colleagues at Amherst College. And without the love and support of my closest friends and family, none of this would have been possible. Let’s put this on the turntable, Piccolo. It’s about time!

This recording was made possible by the H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life at Amherst College.

pfMENTUM
PFMCD115
www.pfmentum.com

Steve Adams / Scott Walton: Cookies for Cyrano (PFMCD103)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="935"]

1. Force Field of Oblivion 6:04
2. one of countless sporadic manifestations of the alternate universe in which Olivier Messiaen is a fervent agnostic 7:15
3. Membrillo 6:14
4. Operatic 13:37
5. The Enumeration (for Glenn Spearman) 6:13
6. Ogonix 8:58
7. Black Notebook #8 13:37

Steve Adams – alto and baritone saxes, bass flute, electronics
Scott Walton – acoustic bass

All compositions by Steve Adams, © 2016 Metalanguage Music (BMI)

Recorded Feb. 25, 2015 at Fantasy Studio B by Jesse Nichols.
mixed July 8 and December 29, 2015 at Fantasy Studios by Jesse Nichols.
mastered May 5, 2016 by Myles Boisen at the Headless Buddha Mastering Lab.

The Steve Adams/Scott Walton Duo has been performing since 2013. Steve is best known as a member of the Rova Sax Quartet, with whom he has played for over twenty five years, toured internationally and released more than twenty five recordings. His compositions have been performed at the Bang on a Can and Meet the Composer Festivals. Scott Walton is a bassist and pianist whose music negotiates the terrain between jazz, free improvisation, and the classical avant-garde.  He has performed throughout North America and Europe with groups he co-leads, and in a host of collaborative contexts.

pfMENTUM CD103
PFMCD103

The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet: The Alchemical Mass and The Kaiser / Diaz-Infante Sextet: Suite Solutio (PFMCD019)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="396,393,395"]
The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet: The Alchemical Mass

The Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet: Suite Solutio

The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet with The Ojai Camerata

Woodwinds: Vinny Golia, Eric Barber, Jason Mears * Trumpet/Flugelhorn: Kris Tiner * Trombone: Michael Vlatkovich
Tuba: Mark Weaver * Bass: Jim Connolly * Prepared Acoustic Guitar: Ernesto Diaz-Infante * Acoustic Piano: Wayne Peet
Percussion: Brad Dutz * Drum Set: Richie West * Jeff Kaiser: Conductor, Flugelhorn

The Ojai Camerata:
Sopranos: Diane Besocke, Candace Delbo, Eleanor Land,
Laura Johnson-Bickford, Lu Setnicka
Altos: Gwen Erickson, Lisa Gordon, Katherine Halsey,
Holly Mitchem, Zoe Pietrycha
Tenors: Carla Aiello, Jaye Hersh, J.B. White
Basses: Dave Farber, Jim Halverson, Kurt Meyer, Bill Wagner
Dr. Wyant Morton, Director

The Alchemical Mass
Conducted by Jeff Kaiser and Dr. Wyant Morton
1. Introitus 10:28
[Eric Barber, Soprano Sax * Vinny Golia, Sopranino Sax]
2. Kyrie 3:00
3. Collecta and Gloria 2:33
[Kris Tiner, Flugelhorn]
4. Epistola and Graduale 1:44
5. Offertorium 9:03
[Jeff Kaiser, Flugelhorn * Jason Mears, Alto Sax]
6. Ave Maria and Commune 7:16

Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet
Trumpet/Flugelhorn: Jeff Kaiser * Prepared Acoustic Guitar: Ernesto Diaz-Infante
Trombone: Scot Ray * Bass: Jim Connolly * Percussion: Brad Dutz * Drum Set: Richie West

Suite Solutio
7. Part I 2:38
8. Part II 1:25
9. Part III 5:06
10. Part IV 5:49
11. Part V 4:19
Total Playing Time 53:21

All compositions and arrangements by Jeff Kaiser * (C)2004 Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP
The Alchemical Mass was recorded 4.26.03 at the First United Methodist Church in Ventura, CA
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Wayne Peet
Suite Solutio was recorded 2.25.01 at Zircon Skye in Ojai, CA
Recorded by Jeff Evans * Mixed and mastered by Jeff Kaiser
Photographs by Michael Kelly * Design and layout by Jeff Kaiser

The Alchemical Mass is dedicated to Keith McMullen for his friendship and unending supply of prima materia.
In Stercore Invenitur

Liner Notes:

“Obscurum Per Obscurius.”
[Explaining the obscure by the more obscure.]

-Anonymous Alchemical Quote

“It is true that alchemy always stood on the verge of heresy and that certain decrees leave no doubt as to the Church’s attitude towards it, but on the other hand it was effectively protected by the obscurity of its symbolism, which could always be explained by harmless allegory…The alchemists ran counter to the Church in preferring to seek through knowledge rather than to find through faith, though as medieval people they never thought of themselves as anything but good Christians…But in reality they were in much the same position as modern man, who prefers immediate personal experience to belief in traditional ideas, or rather has it forced upon him…For this reason there have always been people who, not satisfied with the dominants of conscious life, set forth – under cover and by devious paths, to their destruction or salvation – to seek direct experience of the eternal roots…”

-C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis – chaplain and court astrologer to Ladislaus I (King of Hungary and Bohemia) and then Louis II – wrote the text of The Alchemical Mass between 1490 and 1516. Following the death of Louis II in 1526, Cibenensis fled to Vienna…where Ferdinand I would execute him in 1531. The original text is quite long and has been paraphrased for this composition.

Introitus Missae:
Fundamentum vero artis est corporum solutio quae, non in aquam nubis, sed in aquam mercurialem resolvenda sunt, ex qua generatur verus lapis philosophorum. [The basis of the Art is the dissolution of the bodies…]
Versus: Introitus vitrioli, et salis vitri, aequales partes, dans solutionis testimonium: Gloria patri, et filio, per spiritum sanctum.

Kyrie:
Kyrie, fons bonitatis, inspirator sacrae artis, a quo bona cuncta tuis fidelibus procedunt, Eleison.
Christe, Hagie, lapis benedicte artis scientiae qui pro mundi salute inspirasti lumen scientiae, Eleison.
Kyrie, ignis divine, pectora nostra juva, ut pro tua laude pariter sacramenta artis expandere possimus, Eleison.
[Our Lord, fount of goodness, inspirer of the sacred art, from whom all good things come to your faithful, have mercy. Christ, Holy one, blessed stone of the art of the science who for the salvation of the world hast inspired the light of the science, have mercy. Our Lord, divine fire, help our hearts, that we may be able, to your praise, to expand the sacraments of the art, have mercy.]

Collecta:
Deus largitor totius bonitatis, qui maxime in fine temporum; sola tua bonitate et sapientia famulo tuo. N.N. non suis meritis praecedentibus: sed tua ineffabili pietate, et gratia praeveniente, lumen sacrae artis alchemiae inspirasti, praesta quae sumus, ut quod ex tuae maiestatis dono accepit, ad salutem corporis, et animae eius prosit, in ipsoque omnia vitia mortifica, et gratiam virtutis infunde, ut eandem sacram artem solum modo ad laudem, et gloriam nominis tui, et fidei Christianae propagationem, fideliter expendat, per dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Amen.
[May thy servant N.N. practice the sacred Art of alchemy to the glory of God…]

Gloria in excelsis

Epistola:
O altitudo divitiarum sapientiae, et scientiae Dei.
[O profound, wise and knowledgeable God.]

Graduale:
Surge aquilo et veni auster: perfla hortum meum, et fluant aromata illius.
[Arise north wind, and come south wind, blow through my garden and let the aromatical spices flow.]

Ave Maria:
Salve, O caeli iubar speciosum, mundi lumen radiosum; hic cum luna copularis, sit copula martialis, et Mercurii coniunctio. Ecce res est una, radix una, essentia una…qui est lapis philosophorum. Hic est thesaurus thesaurorum, summa medicina philosophorum, caeleste secretum antiquorum, beatus, qui hoc invenerit.
[Hail beautiful lamp of heaven, shining light of the world! Here art thou united with the moon, here is made the band of Mars and the conjunction of Mercury. And behold it is one thing, one root, one essence…this being the stone of the philosophers. It is the treasure of treasures, the supreme philosophical potion, the divine secret of the ancients. Blessed is he that finds such thing.]

Commune: Regem nostrum venientem ex igne, illuminatum, et diademate coronatum, ipsum honorate in perpetuum. Amen.
[Glory be to our king who comes out of the fire, who is illumined, and crowned with the diadem, for ever and ever. Amen.]

I wish to thank Dr. Wyant Morton and the Ojai Camerata for commissioning this work and The City of Ventura’s Office of Cultural Affairs for a grant to fund The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet. I would also like to thank Adam McLean, author of over 40 books on alchemical and hermetic literature, who took the time out of his busy schedule to send me the complete Latin text of The Alchemical Mass with translation. Visit his web site at: www.levity.com/alchemy/ for text and art on all facets of alchemy.

pfMENTUM CD019

PFMCD019

Tom McNalley Trio: Tom McNalley Trio (PFMCD018)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="391"]
Tom McNalley Trio

Tom McNalley: guitar
Jonas Tauber: bass
Ken Ollis: drums

1) Reddog 18:32
2) Orange Needle Society 13:53
3) ZHE 14:34
4) Mourned 9:54
5) Gallery 421 7:30
6) Loss 8:01
Total Playing Time: 72:24

All compositions by Tom McNalley, (C)2004 Tom McNalley Music, ASCAP
Recorded at Cappos Cafe, 10.6.03 by Keegan Quinn
CD mastering, art design, and layout by Jeff Kaiser
Photographs by Jonas Tauber and Tom McNalley

After getting the initial version of this CD, I sent copies to several people to see what they thought. One was my friend, author and music critic Richard Meltzer. He called and said that he loves the CD – very much, in fact – and if I wanted liner notes, he would write them. Naturally, and with gratitude, I took him up. — Tom McNalley
******

Hey, listen — I got something important to tell you:

Tom McNalley is the youngest Great Musician I’ve ever encountered.

Great! Amazing! To put things in even partial perspective, the last young’un anywhere near as adept and inventive and passionately original was probably David Murray, pre-WSQ, back when he was still a ferocious motherfucker.

Tom McNalley IS a ferocious motherfucker. By turns savage and tender — a killer and healer — nutso and nutty, then logical/lucid as Jerkoff Sebastian Bach, his playing is as hotly/coolly/sanely/madly a-dance and a-prance (at peace-and-war) with abstract notions as it is with direct emotional one-on-one — “interest” and “feeling” existentially melded (no mean feat) — “jazzy” in the least jaded, least guitar-baggaged, most mammal-elegant sense, while partaking EQUALLY of the dirty screaming scuzz of postwar blues and rock rock rock and roll…fuggit.

Sophisticated beyond its maker’s 21 years, Tom’s music spins, spills and spits forth whole vast sonic WORLDS (pardon my French), but if you’re lookin’ to hear Other Guitarists in his playing, well, you won’t hear other guitarists in his playing. Okay, splashes and soundings maybe — f’r sure he’s picked up “things” from Hendrix, McLaughlin, Sharrock, Nels Cline, Derek Bailey, Alberts Collins and King — but rarely anything as explicit as a borrowed “idea,” a riff, even a lick.

“I’ve never been lick-oriented,” says Tom. “I’ve tried to develop a sense of melody that will serve me, that’ll do me some good, and I always like to see how others handle it, but not through their licks.”

By “melody,” um, you mean tunes? Tunefulness?

“No, more like just the basis for telling a story — the unique and individual approaches of players I admire, the ones who seem to be emotionally honest, who have the chops to communicate directly and honestly. Most aren’t even guitarists. Rob Blakeslee is and has been very important to me, seeing how he makes the music that is his — the concepts he brings to his trumpet playing.

Ayler…Braxton…Charlie Parker, certainly — but not for anything to do with ‘bebop.’ Bebop as such has very little meaning to me.”
And what is the importance, the weight in the equation, of “free”?

“In a sense, I view composition as no more than a set of instructions for the band. There are things I want to happen, but they’re general. I like looseness — flexibility — so the music can go anywhere. In some cases there’ll be a written line, but usually no more than a suggestion of bass line, rhythmic groove, things like that. Half the tunes in this set, on this recording, are freely improvised — completely — there’s no written or suggested anything. Even the stuff that sounds written is very spur-of-the-moment. In real time, not trying to play to a pre-existent notion, but at the same time going for and building a musical totality, the players communicated the compositions to each other. We just played and listened.”

Played and listened: dig it!

Look, I don’t wanna make with the ultra-superlatives again — well, maybe I do — but this here album, on which Tom, bassist Jonas Tauber and drummer Ken Ollis explore, with extreme malice (and extreme care and definitude), the MYSTERY OF INTIMACY — stripmine it — achieve near-total communion — is to my ears the HOTTEST debut alb by a guitar guy & co. since Are You Experienced? Hendrix. Before you were born (that’s how old I am).

It is also — pardon my carried-away — one of the great trio albs, period, y’know like ever, up there with Trio in Real Time by Richard Grossman, the v. best of Bill Evans with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, and the bestest by Air with Steve McCall. The music these humpers make together is outstanding and astounding…I wouldn’t shit ya.

Hey — I love this record — ‘scuse me — disc. I hope you will too.

— Richard Meltzer, Portland, 2004

pfMENTUM CD018

PFMCD018

The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet: 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic (PFMCD013)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="381"]
The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet is:
Eric Barber: Soprano and Tenor Saxophones
Vinny Golia: Saxophones, Clarinets, Flutes
Emily Hay: Flutes
Lynn Johnston: Saxophones and Clarinets
Jason Mears: Alto Saxophone
Dan Clucas/Kris Tiner: Trumpets
Michael Vlatkovich: Trombone
Eric Sbar: Euphonium and Valve-Trombone
Mark Weaver: Tuba
Ernesto Diaz-Infante: Acoustic Guitar
Tom McNalley: Electric Guitar
G.E. Stinson: Electric Guitar, Electronics
Jim Connolly/Hal Onserud: Contrabass
Wayne Peet: Organ, Theremin, Electronics
Brad Dutz: Percussion
Richie West: Drum Set and Percussion
Jeff Kaiser: Conductor, Trumpet

Track List
1. My Uncle Toby’s apologetical oration 6:57
2. Gravity was an errant scoundrel 5:55
3. This sweet fountain of science 8:44
4. The Curate’s folly betwixt them 5:47
5. Devout, venerable, hoary-headed man, meekly holding up a box 4:43
6. The stranger’s nose was no more heard of 1:18
7. Uncle Toby understood the nature of a parabola 4:01
8. The Accusing Spirit which flew up to heaven’s chancery 6:55
9. A thousand of my father’s most subtle syllogisms 7:23
10. His life was put in jeopardy by words 5:44
11. The heat and impatience of his thirst 5:16
12. Nothing but the fermentation 4:11
13. I wish my Uncle Toby had been a water-drinker 6:09
Total Playing Time: 1:13:13

All compositions and arrangements by Jeff Kaiser
©2003 Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP
Recorded at Ventura City Hall, Ventura, CA, 9.7.02
Recording, mastering, design, and layout by Jeff Kaiser

“Number helps more than anything else to bring order into the chaos of appearances.”
— C. G. Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche

pf MENTUM CD013

PFMCD013

 

Jeff Kaiser and Brad Dutz: The Order of Her Bones (PFMCD008)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

[playlist ids="372"]
Jeff Kaiser: trumpet, flugelhorn, and voices.
Brad Dutz: marimba, glass marimba, vibes, xylophone, bass slit drum, gongs, nipple gongs, wind gong, bell plate, heavy bell, Indian bells, bell chimes, sea urchin chimes, obsidian chimes, cup chime, crotales, rotosound, bird whistles, Brazilian birdcalls, clay jay call, Rawcliffe clay bowls and tuba flute, rainstick, hadjira, concertina, ratchet, shakers, caxixi, bones, pods, balloon whistle, pandiero, riq, bougarabou, spinner, finger cymbals, cymbals, bongos, cajon, string cajon, frame drum, snare drum, bass drum, and voices.

1. The White Haired Gentleman Approaches 6:41

2. Magnification Embrace 5:50

3. The Scrupulous Hand of Childhood 6:18

4. Wounds and Contusions 3:18

5. The Vigilant Conspiracy 5:28

6. The Order of Her Bones 1:48

7. Stories, RumorsÉ 6:58

8. Finches and Wrens 5:42

9. It Becomes Translucent 5:32

10. Bring Me Some Eggs 3:16

11. No Coffee? Nothing? 4:56

12. Faintly Appearing 5:02

Total Playing Time: 60:50

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 by Jeff Kaiser and Brad Dutz
© 2002 Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP and Leaky Spleen Music, BMI 4, 8, 12 by Brad Dutz
© 2002 Leaky Spleen Music, BMI Recorded by Brad Dutz at Apperson Street Studios in Tujunga, CA on 3.19.01, 6.4.01, and 9.15.01 Mastered by Jeff Kaiser
Design and layout by Jeff Kaiser
Brad Dutz endorses Paiste, VIC FIRTH, REMO, Yamaha, and Mountain Rythym

pfMENTUM CD008

PFMCD008

Ted Killian: Flux Aeterna (PFMCD007)

Jeff Kaiser 1 Comment

BACK IN PRINT! We have 10 copies left…

[playlist ids="668,670,671"]
Ted Killian: Electric and acoustic guitars, samples, loops, sound design

Loop-based guitar improvisations/excursions recorded “live” in the studio in a single take. Ted's music is frequently compared to that of David Torn, Steve Tibbetts, Terje Rypdal, Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Sonny Sharrock, Nels Cline, or Bill Frisell, sometimes even David Gilmour, Jeff Beck or Uli Jon Roth. But Ted cites influences that come from all over the map: Leo Kottke, Eliott Sharp, Paul Dresher, Scott Johnson, Vernon Reid, John Abercrombie, Michael Brook, Daniel Lanois, Gary Lucas, Jim Thomas, John Fahey, Jimi Hendrix, John Mclaughlin, Frank Zappa, Pat Metheny, Buckethead, Chet Atkins and Les Paul. Yet, despite this, there is still something uniquely “Killianesque” in his approach. Ted is a guitarist who isn't afraid to paint with the instrument's full color “palette.” He's not afraid to make wild, adventurous, passionate “in-you-face” music or sonorous, languid, peaceful harmonic/melodic explorations.

Ted Killian: A Biography

Born and raised in sunny Southern California, Ted Killian has been a guitarist for over 4 decades now and he still hasn't managed to learn to play the thing correctly. But, as it turns out, this may have turned out to be a pretty good thing. Without necessarily having set out to do so, Killian has found his own unique “voice” on an instrument that is nearly ubiquitous in modern popular music. His sound is a peculiar amalgam of odd, sometimes familiar, influences: folk, pop, blues, rock, metal, jazz, electronica, electro-acoustic “art music,” and just plain noise (“!”) that begs one to think the word “fusion” but is much more primal, gut-level and organic than any connotation that word may conjure.

Killian's music is full of contradictions. It is primitive and sophisticated, visceral and sensitive, abstract and accessible, complex and blood simple all at once. It is given birth by heavy doses of technology (MIDI guitar, a plethora of electronic effects, digital echo devices, samplers, and all manner of assorted “gadgets”) but the result is amazingly human sounding. There is blood and sweat mixed in with all of the diodes and cables — and more than a small measure of passion. This intensity is not something that can be seen in the usual form of typical guitarist “histrionics” but can be heard in every note of the music itself.

Killian began playing and experimenting early on, but (in terms of public performance) bloomed late. Beginning in the late 1980s, he began performing his original music in conjunction with the Ventura New Music Concert Series (Southern California)– aided by close friend and colleague, avant-jazz trumpeter, Jeff Kaiser. So began a long series of ever-changing concerts and presentations all around Southern California. Some of these were in connection to SEAMUS, an acronym for the national “new music” organization: the Society for Electro Acoustic Music in the United States (Killian was introduced to the organization by Kaiser in 1990 and became President of the Los Angeles chapter in 1992). Ted's has been interviewed as a featured composer on “Music of the Americas” on KPFK radio in Los Angeles. Since the debut of “Flux Aeterna” his music has been played on literally dozens of radio stations around the globe and has garnered critical praise in as many publications internationally. In recent years, he has composed music for ballet, “fixed” gallery installations, multi-discipinary art performances, large ensembles and small groups. And, after all of this, Killian has still somehow managed to avoid having ever been in anything resembling a “band.”

Ted Killian is a 1982 graduate of UCSB with a Bachelors degree in visual arts. Since then he has exhibited paintings, sculpture and computer art in a number of galleries, museums and other venues across the country. He was a 1992 appointee to the “Task Force for Visual Arts” in Ventura, CA. He supports his musical/artistic activities with his “day job” as a freelance graphic designer for various musical instrument and high-tech manufacturers. He currently resides in Southern Oregon with his wife, 3 sons, 3 guinea pigs, and 2 goldfish.

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