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

Jeff Kaiser

[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

Michael Vlatkovich Quartet: ALiveBUQUERQUE (PFMCD045)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="456"]
Michael Vlatkovich

Christopher Garcia: drums/percussion
Jonathan Golove: electric cello
David Mott: baritone saxophone
Michael Vlatkovich: trombone/percussion
Compositions:
1) Black Triangles, Yellow Corn, and Pink Medicine Drops 12:28
2) Poem on a Banner 9:53
3) Blue Fragments 7:28
4) Once In A Blue Moon A Decent Wolf Comes Along 9:23
5) Every Second of Every Minute of Every Hour 17:36
total: 57:02

Recorded in concert- Outpost Performance Space May 19, 2003
Recorded and mixed- Manuel Rettinger
Edited and mastered- Wayne Peet
Sculpture artist- Justo Xuana
Photos of sculpture-William Roper
All other photos- Mark Weber
Graphic design- Chuck Britt

Surely we have arrived Nefertiti. Such luminescence. Our
audience brings us forward, carrying our transcendence.
Our fate. This music like mercury silver hot upon the wheel
cycles out tentacled delicate flux rotating matter, solar,
nebraska, consonance in this tangential place ye shall
know as New Mexico. How many years has this composer
borne such honesty? The river it flows upon is specific.
Yet nothing about it holds the musicians down. There is
chance, and probability, and negotiation, and a compass
in case anybody wants to look. The delta can be treacherous
at certain times of the year. O Nefertiti how calm you are
in the center of this music.

18june03
mark weber
Albuquerque

pfMENTUM CD045

PFMCD045

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

Jeff Kaiser

[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

Kris Tiner / Mike Baggetta: There, Just As You Look For It (PFMCD025)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="413,411"]
Kris Tiner: trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, saxoflugel
Mike Baggetta: prepared acoustic guitar

1. The Road To El Paso [6:09]
2. Second Preference [3:39]
3. A Delicate Touch [3:49]
4. Your Aftermath [2:31]
5-8. Quadrants (for Ken Wilber)
WE [7:25]
ITS [4:13]
IT [4:11]
I [2:11]
9. Caffeinated Weasels [2:01]
10. One More Chance [4:51]
11. Choke On It [1:53]
12. There, Just As You Look For It [6:26]
Total Playing Time: [49:19]

Tracks 1-4 and 10-11 are compositions by Mike Baggetta, (c) 2005 Mabnotes Music, BMI
Tracks 5-9 and 12 are compositions by Kris Tiner, (c) 2005 Kris Tiner Music, ASCAP
Recorded at pfMENTUM World Headquarters in Ventura, California, 6/20/04
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jeff Kaiser
Design and layout by Jeff Kaiser and Kris Tiner
Photos taken by Jason Mears at the Salvation Theatre in Los Angeles, 6/21/04

Thanks: Jeff Kaiser, Kim Tiner, Paul Cartwright, Jeremy Drake, Rent Romus, Monica at Dagny’s, Phillip Greenlief, Ivan Johnson, Jason Mears, Kraig Grady, Nissan Pathfinder.
www.kristiner.com
www.mikebaggetta.com

pfMENTUM CD025

PFMCD025

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

Jeff Kaiser

[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

 

Ted Killian: Flux Aeterna (PFMCD007)

Jeff Kaiser

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.

pfMENTUM CD007

PFMCD007