The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet: 17 Themes for Ockodektet (PFMCD010)


Woodwinds: Eric Barber, Vinny Golia, Emily Hay, Lynn Johnston
Trumpets: Dan Clucas, Kris Tiner
Euphonium and Valve-Trombone: Eric Sbar
Tuba: Mark Weaver
Prepared Acoustic Guitar: Ernesto Diaz-Infante
Electric Guitar/Electronics: G.E. Stinson
Organ/Theremin/Electronics: Wayne Peet
Contrabasses: Jim Connolly, Scott Walton
Drums: Billy Mintz, Richie West
Percussion: Brad Dutz
Conductor/Trumpet: Jeff Kaiser

Suite One
1. Dirge 2:31
2. Clad Like Birds 3:40
3. Amplifying Their Parallels 7:01
4. Nothing May Be Taken Naturally 2:56
5. Even with Diagrams 8:12
6. One Absolute Material 5:54
7. Figures of this In-Between 3:05
8. Figures to be Actualities 4:27
9. Figure with Wings 7:09
Suite Two
10. Coincidentia Oppositorum 3:55
11. Where His Third Eye Could Be 3:59
12. Fulfilled by the Reflected Image 7:41
13. There is No Profit from Dreams 7:55
14. Into That Nothing-Between 5:07
Total Time: 73:44

All compositions and arrangements by Jeff Kaiser, ©2002 Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP
Recorded direct to DAT – on the occasion of Jeff Kaiser’s 40th birthday party – at Ventura City Hall, Ventura, CA, 12.8.01
CD recording, mastering, design, and layout by Jeff Kaiser

“Dreams are sleep’s watchful brother, of death’s fraternity, heralds, watchmen of that coming night, and our attitude toward them may be modeled upon Hades, receiving, hospitable, yet relentlessly deepening, attuned to the nocturne, dusky, and with a fearful cold intelligence that gives permanent shelter in his house to the incurable conditions of human being.”
— James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld



SKU: PFMCD010 Category:

1 review for The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet: 17 Themes for Ockodektet (PFMCD010)

  1. 0 out of 5

    “Kaiser takes us on a rollercoaster ride: post-Lutoslawski melodies meet chaotic free jazz, Duke Ellington goes head to head with Lawrence ‘Butch’ Morris. Somewhere, 17 Themes for Ockodektet constitutes an extension of the trumpeter’s 1998 CD Nothing Is Not Breath: Music for Double Quartet, but here extremes are pushed much further. Opposite musical forms are set side by side, acoustic and electronic instruments battle it out…More than the pieces themselves, what strikes the listener is Kaiser’s ability to conduct. The group gestures (crescendo and diminuendo, shifts between free improv and scored sections) are highly precise and provide a source of marvel for 74 minutes. That and the unusual touch Wayne Peet’s organ playing brings to the music make 17 Themes for Ockodektet a satisfying experience…”

    –Francois Couture, , 10.2002

    “On his 40th birthday, Ventura, California-based trumpeter Jeff Kaiser assembled a 16 piece ‘Ockodektet’ featuring some of the finest free improvisors from Southern California, including Vinny Golia, Eric Barber, Ernesto Diaz-lnfante and GE Stinson, to perform his 17 Themes: 14 tracks of part composed, part improvised music grouped into two suites lasting 43 and 29 minutes, conducted by Kaiser himself and recorded direct to DAT.

    Not only an experienced improvisor, Kaiser is also well versed in contemporary composer repertoire. His Templum-Tempus won a prize at the Bourges International Festival of Electroacoustic Music in 1999, and his music has as much in common with Haubenstock-Ramati’s as it does with that of Butch Morris. The ‘aleatory counterpoint’ of Lutoslawski’s 1960s music comes to mind, and both suites somehow connect with the raw energy of earlier jazz/ contemporary collaborations, such as JCOA or Don Cherry’s work with Penderecki.

    On ‘Nothing May Be Taken Naturally’, Kaiser makes full use of an ensemble of instruments as diverse as theremin and steel drums, all the while leaving room for some splendid soloing. Eric Barber’s soprano sax work is particularly thrilling…once in full flight, the music recalls the wilder moments of Alan Silva’s Celestrial Communication Orchestra.”

    — DAN WARBURTON, The Wire, December 2002

    “…the massive blocks of sound that erupt then ebb away bear less relation to any music I know than to natural phenomena–mountains arising or the movement of tectonic plates…this is vivid and colorful music, richly imagined and lovingly brought off…But really, who would commercially record music such as this? It’s far too brave and beautiful.

    — John Chacona, SIGNAL to NOISE, Spring 2003

    “Tom Waits would fucking love this. The Ockodektek — 17 people, that is — that recorded this disc uses a variety of saggy-assed sounding instruments to create a tramp’s drunken dream. Contrabasses, theremin, ephonium, electric guitar, drums, electronics, trombone, trumpets, woodwinds — they’re all there, and they combine to create a distinctly seasick noise, but one that can sound like birds, screams, choirs and crushing fist of doom music from a ’40s film. There are a number of avant luminaries at work here — Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Vinny Golia, et al — but 17 Themes doesn’t seem to be much of a showcase for individual chops; there’s a sense of frightening unity in this junky beast that, while stealing the spotlight from the musicians on an individual level, speaks of a single-minded dedication to the pursuit of a feel through what is, admittedly, difficult terrain.

    The disc puts almost 75 minutes of avant-stomp in your ears, broken into two Suites. And it’s all fairly intriguing, largely because it seems to skip across styles. Indeed, listening to Suite One’s “Amplifying Their Parallels”, I was put in mind of neoclassical composition, jazz, and the campest of showtunes, as explored by a giant kabuki dancer. It’s pretty similar all the way through; the music’s like a sea, the genres like corks released at the bottom, racing each other to see which one will be dominant.

    It’s difficult to describe the intent of 17 Themes’s narrative flow. It kicks off with a quasi-Southern moaning stomp called “Dirge”, which is a great example of the formless, breathing nature of what’s to come, but also conceals the ensemble’s high-quality sensibilities. There are suggestions of Ligeti-style percolations of melody: tonal clusters, long, droning notes that rise over the top of the mix in a ghostly fashion. The unusual tunes are slightly reminiscent of Atlantis-era Sun Ra: the feeling of evocative soundtrack here is hard to deny.

    The experimentalism never really stops, and it can be difficult to keep up. “Even With Diagrams”, for example, is somewhere between trumpet voluntary and what sounds like a 1930s car-show — spinning wheels, a sense of mechanisms at work in a very Antheil kind of way. Retro modernism by way of the junkyard? Quite possibly — but it’s more than that. There’s a real sense of jubilation here, even behind the desolation of some of the more woe-informed pieces.

    The interesting thing about 17 Themes for Ockodektet is that despite being a deeply strange amalgam of styles, it is a recording of a birthday party. Tied with string, it’s like a bag of lollies from a children’s birthday bash — something to be savoured. It’s not something that you can listen to without giving it attention — it shakes you by the throat until you notice it — but it does reward perseverance. Make an effort, and you’ll find that you wish you’d been there to witness this beast in life. It’s like Carl Stalling on steroids.”

    — Luke Martin,, 2.4.03

    “13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic and 17 Themes for Ockodektet, build shivering walls of sound around his luminous trumpet, creating a lush, sophisticated mood that manages to remain lighthearted. ”

    Operating under the unwieldy name of the Ockodektet, the band on (2) revels unabashedly in its surplus-sized dimensions. The music, captured direct to DAT on the occasion of conductor Kaiser’s 40th birthday, is a swirling melange of tightly scripted sections balanced with lubricious large and small-scale improv. The cast reads like a toastmaster’s roster of West Coast improvisers with Golia perhaps enjoying the distinction of most high profile participant. Sonics are a bit distant in sections and the audience is at times clearly audible over the music, but overall the concert is preserved with a very listenable consistency. Cloven into two mammoth suites the night’s program ambitiously incorporates the talents of all involved. Kaiser makes cunning use of harmonic color over the set’s entire duration, particularly in the context of the weighty horn section, which regularly celebrates its piebald constituency. The latticed structures of the individual tracks usually allow for a guiding solo voice to sail across the busy backgrounds birthed by the band as a whole. Tension building segues of silence separate many of the movements. Voluminous dissonance also comes strikingly into play as during the closing moments of “Clad Like Birds” where the horns spiral in a heaven-bound trajectory of bristling lines. Discerning exactly who is contributing what is a near impossible task as specific instruments in the wind section remain unassigned in the liners, but portions of the brass section, specifically Sbar and Weaver, prove easier to nail down. Mintz and West, behind their individual drum kits, are for the most part surprisingly sparse while Dutz, who once again adheres to percussion beyond the scope of his standard rig, contributes vivid elements of rhythmic color. Electronics and the whirring atmospherics of Peet’s organ reign supreme on “Nothing May Be Taken Naturally,” blending with the clicking sounds of Dutz’s notorious bicycle crank. Conversely, “Even with Diagrams” lumbers forward in elephantine lurches and stops. The low brass of Weaver and Sbar prove especially effective in this regard, injecting a cavernous resonance to the already titanic wall of horns. A lone baritone horn barks forth (my money’s on Golia) and a muffled chorus of miasmic electronics gurgles away at the fringes sounding uncannily like Sun Re circa Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy. In fact, comparisons to the Arkestra as a whole are not far-fetched as the Ockodektet achieves a similar degree of tightly marshaled musical might and awe. Less verbose in length, but on par in terms of density and drive, the disc’s second suite employs a greater measure of melodic force. The opening movement, “Coincidentia Oppositorum,” initially sounds like a fanfare lifted right out of a cinematic Biblical epic, but suddenly disintegrates into a spidery thicket of Diaz-lnfante’s prickly guitar strings. As a complete aural package the recording largely retains the excitement and majesty that no doubt came with assembling such an imposing cast of players. Ambitious both artistically and from an execution standpoint, Kaiser’s opus is an effort that fires on nearly all cylinders.

    Derek Taylor, Cadence, August 2003, 122-123

    “Jeff Kaiser had substantial help with this music, considering that his Ockodektet is a seventeen piece ensemble, but he composed, arranged, conducted, recorded, mastered and played trumpet himself, and then designed the unique package featuring a trifold cover containing a paper sleeve and wrapped up with a twine bow. I suspect he might have tied the bow himself, too.
    The music (which consists of fourteen tracks, regardless of the title) was recorded direct to DAT in a performance celebrating Kaiser’s 40th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, Kaiser gathered some of the cream of the west coast avant-garde in his home base of Ventura, CA, and booked city hall for the performance. The result is sometimes challenging but generally satisfying. It’s hard to discern how much of the music is composed and how much is improvised, but given Kaiser’s classical background and nearly obsessive control over every other element of the project, I suspect the scale tilts heavily toward the composed side of the equation. At the very least, the material had to be carefully arranged to maintain some semblance of order with seventeen players on hand.
    This is not always easy music to listen to, but just when you think he’s abandoned the audience to cacophony, Kaiser manages to resolve even the most anarchic passages in a way that’s ultimately satisfying, at least if you have a taste for edgy art music. The best point of reference I can draw would be Sun Ra’s Arkestra. In fact, this is one of the few large ensemble avant garde performances I’ve heard in recent years that deserves that comparison, and Kaiser’s Ockodektet doesn’t suffer from it at all. Like the Arkestra, they travel to some dangerous spaces, but the attentive listener will return from the adventure safely and stronger for it.”

    –Shaun Dale,

    “When Jeff Kaiser turned 40, he celebrated inviting a bunch of friends (including Ernesto Diaz-Infante – cmp review elsewhere on these pages) and letting them jam under his supervision at Ventura City Hall, in Ventura, California. He also taped the whole thing to DAT so that we all can be invited to that party as well. Besides conducting and trumpeting, woodwinds, euphonium, valve-trombone, tuba, acoustic and electric guitar, electronics, organ, theremin, drums and percussions were also involved. Freeform, free-style, free-spirit, free-jazz, it’s all free, it’s all good. If you are into acoustic explorations, experimental music, concrete musique, the russian electro-acoustic school or the Netherlands’ Staalplaat more accessible discography and stuff like that this is your cup of tea. Sophisticated, intellectual, down to earth, beautiful, tense, relaxing, visionary, soft, frantic, frenetic, aleatory, rapturing. It’s all these things together… And if the music isn’t innovative enough to you try the nice and simple unfolding cardboard packaging with a string.”

    Marc “the MEMORY Man” Urselli-Schärer, 4.22.03,

    “The hype (what there exists of it) for Jeff Kaiser’s 17 Themes for Ockodektet keys in more than once that the album was recorded on the trumpet player/composer/conductor’s 40th birthday. So it is with no little surprise that the mood of the album is at once festive and accomplished. There is chaos in the recording, there is noise of every level – simply put, if one is inclined to enjoy the sometimes discordant and sometimes fluid sounding off of a 17 piece jazz band, the record is plain fun – but there is also, perhaps due to the masterful weaving together of 17 different performers at once, a sense of culmination, of massive achievement. This is not merely the dissociated sounds of 17 people playing their own instruments coming together into one big noise, but musicians working and improvising together to such a degree that we are allowed the illusion of complete composition, and we can’t tell what’s been planned and what’s been improvised within the structure of the avant-garde score.

    The key to this success, I believe, lies in Jeff Kaiser’s attitude towards music. On his Web site, it is posted that he is available as a private music instructor. “Whereas his music is very abstract and modern,” the site says, “his teaching method is concrete and classically rooted; students focus on the fundamentals, which give them the ability to pursue the creative.”

    In that passage, innocuously meant merely as information to would-be students, there is set down what, in my view, is the principle essential to understand for any artist in any medium: Know What You’re Doing. Too many new artists, I think, consider the basics or the “rules” of their art form (whether it be music, painting, writing, etc.) to be unnecessary and constricting. The Best Art, they might argue, has come from those who have disregarded the rules, who have broken the mold. And, of course, they would be right. But I’d be willing to bet that, apart from the one-in-a-million intuitive genius who puts us all to shame the moment they’re born, those Best Artists knew the rules before they broke them. And that is the key to experimental music. Just like a science experiment, if you don’t know what you’re mixing together, you’re more likely to burn your eyebrows off and demolish the laboratory than you are to discover the cure for the common cold.

    (A little aside, a “P.S.” if you will. I know it=EDs hurting my rhetoric to keep on typing after my “Big Finish,” but special mention has to be made of the packaging for 17 Themes for Ockodektet. It is simply marvelous. I don’t know if it will be the same for general release as it was for the promotional copy, but I don’t expect they’d have gone to the expense of making something THIS nice if they didn’t intend it for mass distribution. The CD is in a plain black sleeve, which fits in the middle compartment of a three-part cardstock folder, on which are various technical drawings of a machine I don’t recognize. But they look cool. And the whole thing is held closed by a neatly tied piece of magenta twine, which I assume must have been hand tied, and if it wasn’t, I want a machine like the one that tied it. Musical neonates take note: packaging like this gets you NOTICED. It’s one step towards a potential listener not assuming you sound like everyone else because you look like everyone else. Putting a little effort into making your package look snazzy never hurts, and it also shows that you care about the product you’re producing. This has been Public Service Announcement #527. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.)”

    –Jason Michelitch, 11.02,

    “I have only the vaguest idea of what an “ockodektet” might be — i’m guessing eight people in unison doing mad things with wind instruments, which is how it comes across on this live recording, captured on the festive occasion of Kaiser’s 40th birthday (obviously a man who knows how to throw a party). The disc is broken down into two suites in which the songs all run together, instrumentation provided through woodwinds, trumpets, euphonium and valve-trombone, tuba, prepared acoustic guitar (courtesy of Ernesto Diaz-Infante), electric guitar and electronics, organ (and theremin) and electronics, contrabasses, drums and percussion, and — to conduct all this madness — Kaiser himself acts as both conductor and lead trumpet blower. The first suite is the longer one, and the opening “Dirge” is two and a half minutes of applause, hooting, trumpet fury, what sounds like bird calls, and Anu knows what else: madness unleashed like the opening of Pandora’s box. The group settles down a tad on “Clad Like Birds,” although the lonesome bleating o’ various wind instruments in succession eventually leads to a wall of dirge ‘n drone, that, when it dies away for the last time, neatly segues into “Amplifying Their Parallels,” where we discover there is an actual drummer buried down in there somewhere (actually two, Billy Mintz and Richie West, although whether they take turns or play simultaneously eludes me). “Nothing May Be Taken Naturally” is a respite in the midst of the chaos, with drawn-out notes from individual instruments winding around each other, less dependent on volume and density than pure drone. “Even WIth Diagrams” and the mildly less freeform “One Absolute Material” demonstrate the free-jazz dictum that music desires to be free, unfettered by the restrictions of tempo, meter, and predictability. Chaos gradually coalesces in a hypnotic rhythm over which the woodwinds shriek like gazelle being prodded with steak knives. Even as order threatens to take over, entropy begins dismantling the system. (Listening to music like this for too long will make you insane, by the way.) The fearful rumble of percussion dominates “Figures to be Actualities,” while the chittering of woodwinds in the higher register and the earthen drone of contrabasses provide the structure and framework of the first suite’s closing act, “Figure With Wings.”

    I’m assuming that in between the suites everybody took five to go have a smoke, grab a beer, fool around with girls (boys? both?) in the pantry, and retune all the exhausted instruments , but since they didn’t include any of that audio documentation here, we’ll just have to guess. We’ll leave that to your suitably lurid imagination…

    The second suite opens with “Coincidentia Oppositorum,” which threatens to be a tad more conventional in its harmonic and structural sensibilities, only to abruptly start flaking out pretty quick as devolved horns and treated guitar do cryptic battle over a percussion break that’s often drowned out by the neighboring chaos as the woodwinds gather again to provide more thunder. The foundation for some of these tracks, especially “Fulfilled by the Reflected Image,” appear to be grounded in electronics and partially masked by droning contrabasses, and while they are a tad more “controlled” than many movements from the earlier suite, none of this will be mistaken for conventional jazz by any stretch of the imagination. (There is a recognizable nod to classical symphonic sound, however.) The closing “Into That Nothing-Between” makes a nice summation of many earlier themes and is appropriately dense with rumbling tone clusters, plus it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it (well….). The most interesting thing about this disc and its suite format, though, is that it suddenly makes me realize that i’ve never thought of Kaiser before as a composer rather than merely an artist — i guess i’ll know better know, eh?”

    –Dead Angel, Issue 54, 11/02,

    “On the occasion of JEFF KAISER’S 40th birthday, he and some dozen friends recorded this album at the Ventura City Hall in Ventura (Highway) California.

    This is a soundfest of instrumental sounds, effects, tones, noises, and a dive into the darkish waters of musical experimentation and the way of the avant garde.

    The project is divided into two ‘Suites’ where the musical imagination can run free. The mind also comes into play as one can imagine and ponder the sounds and the song titles they represent.

    Instruments range from woodwinds, trumpets, euphonium and valve-trombone, tuba, acoustic guitar, organ, theremin, electronics, contrabasses, drums, and percussion. The length of the tracks vary from two-and-a-half minutes to over eight. Five cuts run over 7 minutes! Total time here is 73:44.

    The sounds go from dark to strange to weird to eerie, all the way to funny. At times it is a free playing form like jazz with improvisations as well as the players going off in different directions. Then in parts they play off each other and come in as on command.

    We reviewed his album ‘The Order of Her Bones’ previously and went in-depth into the musical creations and arrangements on that CD. Those familiar will recognize the strange but creative titles of the songs. “Amplifying Their Parallels” is but one example of a song title. These provide an outline or schematic to the music. Musically the feel goes from very experimental to dramatic to classical to a blend of moods, styles, and genres.

    Truly a high dive into the world of experimental sounds and creative musical exploring. And you can tell they had fun too.”

    –A. Canales, The Critical Review Service, 12.02

    “Fashioning large-scale compositions for a group of improvising players can be approached in at least two ways. One is to create parts for particular musicians, go over every semidemiquaver of the score and through a series of rehearsals and road trips perfect the performance so it’s note-perfect and ready to be recorded under optimum studio conditions.

    Another way is to gather a bunch of your friends and associates for a live concert honoring some important occasion, bring along a bunch of charts which they may or may not have seen before and have them play them. Capture the whole thing direct to DAT and release the resulting product. Saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli and trumpeter Jeff Kaiser’s CDs offer examples of each of these approaches…

    Ventura, Calif.-based Kaiser conducts, teaches music privately, organizes New music concerts, performs with his own groups and with trombonist Michael Vlatkovich’s Brass Trio, multi-reedist Vinny Golia’s Large Ensemble and anarchistic guitarist Eugene Chadbourne among many others. An ad hoc large orchestra, a bit distantly recorded runs though Kaiser’s newest creations on 17 Themes. A 40th birthday present to himself, he’s now seven years older than Zimmerli.

    As evidenced by his playing partners the Left Coast trumpeter is also from the anything goes school of free improvisation, while the saxophonist could be slotted in the more formal compositional and orchestrational stream that includes the likes of Gil Evans and Gunther Schuller. Besides the fact that that the 17 (sic) musicians on Kaiser’s CD play only 14 (sic) separate tunes, the cheerful anarchy that characterizes the rest of his work extends to the packaging. His disc comes in a paper sleeve inserted inside a two- color cardboard wraparound, illustrated with what looks like items copied from a fanciful mechanical catalogue. In a proper jewel case, the Zimmerli disc on the other hand is beautifully illustrated as if it was a faux medieval illuminated manuscript, with attractive designs depicted on both the booklet cover and the CD itself…

    …So celebrate The Book of Hours as an exceptionally well-written festival feature that swings gently in pristine sound.

    No one would ever say the latter about 17 Themes, which at times comes across as so distinct and murky that certain parts are almost lost. Then again Kaiser had to balance the contributions of five more musicians than Zimmerli, not to mention oddball instruments like the euphonium, tuba, prepared acoustic guitar, electronics and a theremin in an open-air space.

    With titles quirkier and more complicated than Zimmerli’s time-of-day themed compositions, the trumpeter has come up with two suites of music where themes run right into one another despite individually numbered tracks. Upfront though, with the band members operating at a high-energy level reminiscent of Trane’s Ascension band or The Globe Unity Orchestra. Dense sounds like these often depend on pure emotion and stick-to-it-ness to succeed and the group has both of those attributes in spades.

    In the first suite the lumbering, swaying beast takes its shape from the rumbling ostinato pulse provided by the three percussionists and Mark Weaver’s tuba blasts. When the cacophony lessens it often appears as if there’s a contest on between shaking, screeching brass and smeary woodwind trills. As parallel echoing cries from cross blowing flutists mix with saxophone split tones while electronics and percussion build up a curtain of intense power, the odd a capella respite by vaporous oboe or muted Baroque trumpet at least lightens the mood. Other sounds that pierce the block of thick sound are Brad Dutz’s subtle marimba lines plus whistles and shimmies from what’s probably Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s prepared acoustic guitar.

    Eventually before the theme resolves itself as a close relative to those multi-percussion anthems that Sun Ra’s Arkestra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago encouraged others to emulate in the 1960s and 1970s, saxophone tones move from the nephritic to snaking musette-like, piccolos soar bird-like, trumpets gliss and purr, snare and bass drums go in-and-out of march tempo and it seems that every cymbal in the band is scratched for maximum ear abrasion.

    Shorter by almost 20 minutes, suite two begins with some heavy Wagnerian chords played by the massed horns and what sound like strings probably produced by Wayne Peet’s electronic samples. Before the theme is reprised and propelled to the next sonic level by the horns, both guitarists appear to be indulging in behind the bridge flat picking. Suddenly a pastoral section faces off with what could be a distinctive, echoing steel drum tone, which itself morphs into a J. Arthur Rank style gong tone. Soon

    The brass shakes and squeals, the woodwinds turn spit and grit and tongue slaps into rhythm and a distinct hunting horn resonance characterizes the euphonium. Following some EST electronic timbres and a kettle drum line, a bleating tenor saxophone and plunger trumpet introduce a bouncing near-military tempo which cements the sections together. Launched on top of Peet’s swelling organ passages and some straightahead rat tat tat drumming from the percussionists, the dissonance seems to reach its screaming finale as honks and vamps alternate back-and-forth. At least, that is, until the entire sonic picture fades into a final reverberating cymbal tone.

    Obviously the Ockodektet made up in exertion and effort what it lacked in arrangements and pristine sound, though it would have helped to know which of the woodwind soloists played which instrument. If you can get through the often murky sound here you’ll hear a first-rate band playing the sort of exuberant outside sounds which define free jazz. Performing so much more cleanly, Octurn could have pushed its performance to a higher level still if it had adopted some of the dirt and sweat the other band showed off in abundance.”

    — Ken Waxman, 12.27.02,

    “This CD was recorded direct onto DAT at Ventura City Hall, California, for the occasion of Jeff Kaiser’s 40th birthday party!
    It may be called 17 Themes etcetera, but there are only 14 tracks on the CD… which may add some well-deserved mystery to the release…

    Jeff has handles the whole package, from recording to mastering, design and layout, and indeed this release has all the characteristics of pfMENTUM’s earlier output; the sober, original design, the slim paper cover, the string wrapped around the CD when it comes, and the quote running along the inside of the cover as you open it (i.e., the quotes are different ones for each CD, of course!). This time the text goes:

    Dreams are sleep’s watchful brother, of death’s fraternity, heralds, watchmen of that coming night, and our attitude toward them may be modeled upon Hades, receiving, hospitable, yet relentlessly deepening, attuned to the nocturne, dusky, and with a fearful cold intelligence that gives permanent shelter in his house to the incurable conditions of human being! [James Hillman; The Dream and the Underworld]

    Fading in applause opens this lively, forceful show, but with a dirge called Dirge… The trombone (?) is wailing, tuba mumbles and murmurs in a swaggering repetitious breathing, some eastern rattling percussion adds grainy sparks, and the dirge gets ever more disconsolate and heartbroken, with a fierce momentum, which raises more applause as the piece nears its end, where it seamlessly moves over into track 2, an initially wild, jittery, erratic protrusion called Clad Like Birds.

    These are compositions, composed and arranged by Jeff Kaiser, even though the music sometimes may sound improvised.
    Clad Like Birds turn into slowly soothing duets for trumpets, golden tones sweeping like floodlights along the walls, joined by extended tones out of other instruments, eventually raising this big heavy ladder of escape towards the sky, resting it on a dark cloud on high… and we’re sliding into track 3; Amplifying Their Parallels. A flute picks up a fast melody, dancing and bopping above the dark, fat sounds of the bass and a jingling percussion, and vocals sounds appear for the first time.

    This is a very lively set of pieces, sewn together by the moment into a series of dreams, sometimes feverish dreams, perhaps feverish wake dreams, bordering on visions, sweaty glances into a state of ecstasy.

    Amplifying Their Parallels offer some extreme fluttering, hectic trumpet playing, raising the temperature to a Coltrane Ascension state, in a state of the art build-up of thick, dense music, welling forth like a mudflow in moonlight!

    Nothing May Be Taken Naturally is leaning into a softer space, violet light, satin and velvet, the fragrance of shy flowers… leading over into Even With Diagrams, when a disturbance comes alive and works its way up like a spider frantically climbing its thread, somewhere in the deep shadows of this music, which is ever so beautiful, echoing the hypnotic state of the dressed-upness of subdued airline passengers heading west through the skies on high, in moonlight above the clouds… unaware of the inconspicuous goings-on in the fungi infested floor of the coniferous forest way below in the abyss.

    Curtains of Stockhausenesque Monday Greeting/Monday Farewell gold out of the wind instruments gleam and float and billow in a celestial wind blowing in from the 2 degree Kelvin badlands of interstellar space…

    Later on Even With Diagrams gets earthly jazzy, mirroring bebop and big band paraphernalia, albeit with a force and persuasion seldom approved at this magnitude in former days of glory…

    A flair of Indonesian bamboo gamelan distributes eastern fragrances through the peace of One Absolute Material. That atmosphere is obviously intended, as other eastern additives appear, like metal gamelan-type percussion and whistling flutes, perhaps out of the Theremin. These guys have a knack for achieving all kinds of atmospheres, cutting through cultures like the swords of the heroes of the Icelandic Tales through heads!

    The CD continues a good while further, but I stop here, assuring everyone that this was a birthday party well worthy an ingenious and tight-tripping composer, musician and music personality like the now quite old- hehe! – Jeff Kaiser! Glory days!”

    –Ingvar Loco Nordin, 11.02,

    “Jeff Kaiser…turns out really nicely packaged CDs that are as funky to listen to as they are Zen-like to contemplate. Think big band on acid on one of Dizzy’s most innovative nights.”


    “A symphony of “strange” attacks your ears, blasting away any semblance of order you (ever) thought you had imposed on your universe… horns, reeds, strings & a very healthy dose of electronics join together to twist&bend your wierdnesses into shapes you have never imagined. “Conventional” listeners will suffer through nightmares for years to come after one listen, but those among you who are poised on the brink of chaos will find much to examine & rejoice in! This CD, after the cacophonous intro, comes very close to “jazz”, with all the elements of a “big band”, with a heavy dose of trumpet (as you might imagine, since Jeff can blow some mean & snaky pieces). He also serves as a “conductor” for the large group, and (amazing as it may seem), is able to mold it & shape it into something totally different than you have ever heard improvised before; Kaiser is especially effective at making use of high/low moments to emphasize the musical message! If you thirst for high energy in an exploratory large ensemble format, this will strike your fancy.. it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us… it is one of the best improvised albums I’ve heard in 2002!”

    –Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation #60

    Jeff Kaiser – 17 themes for Ockodektet
    Pour ceux qui ne connaîtraient pas encore Jeff Kaiser je conseille vivement la lecture de son interview sur le site de JazzoSphère. Ce musicien atypique, féru d’art, de littérature, de rencontres – bref de toutes ces choses qui participent à l’édification d’une identité forte – aime à se perdre dans des abymes que l’on pense sans retour. Baroudeur des forces obscures, le trompettiste explore des sentiers pas toujours lumineux, qui laissent l’auditeur sans voix. Ce nouvel enregistrement possède toutes les qualités observées chez ce musicien auparavant : rigueur, mise en avant de thématiques évolutives, sans réelles limites créatives, recherches sur les sonorités faites d’un savant dosage d’un héritage assimilé et d’une audace contemporaine marquée… Cet opus permet aussi pour la première fois de voir le musicien diriger une formation large de 17 instrumentistes. Défi nouveau pour un artiste adepte du duo et du solo. Le résultat demeure à la hauteur des qualités évoquées. Jeff Kaiser a déjà posé sa touche dans le milieu des musiques en marge et pourtant cet album a été enregistré pour fêter les 40 ans de ce musicien… (SéM)

    [Jeff Kaiser – 17 topics for Ockodektet For those which would not know Jeff Kaiser yet I highly advise the reading of its interview on the site of JazzoSphère. This atypical musician, set on art, literature, meetings – in short of all these things which take part in the construction of a strong identity – likes to lose himself in abymes that one thinks without return. Fighter of the obscure forces, the trumpet player explores paths not always luminous, which leave the listener without voice. This new recording has all the qualities observed in this musician before: rigour, put in front of evolutionary sets of themes, without real creative limits, research on made sonorities of a scientist proportioning of a comparable heritage and a marked contemporary audacity? This opus also makes it possible for the first time to see the musician directing a broad training of 17 instrumentalists. New challenge for an artist follower of the duet and solo. The result remains with the height of evoked qualities. Did Jeff Kaiser already pose its key in the medium of the musics in margin and yet this album was recorded to celebrate the 40 years of this musician?]

    –Sebastien Moig, 18th issue of the JazzoSphère

    “What a birthday party… When Jeff Kaiser turned 40, he got together with seventeen of his closest musical friends at Ventura City Hall and recorded 17 Themes for Ockodektet, a seventy-three minute triumph that, at its best, offers some of the most successful large ensemble avant garde jazz heard by these ears. Writing and arranging avant garde jazz for an ensemble this large can be a gargantuan task, one that’s surely proven difficult for more than a few jazz legends, but, here, Kaiser is up to the task.

    A composer and trumpet player, Jeff Kaiser’s long been a fixture in the Ventura area, and he’s made a name for himself as both a performer and academic all over the world. Maybe this is why people like Vinny Golia, G.E. Stinson, Wayne Peet, and Ernesto Diaz-Infante all lent their talents to the night’s festivities. Kaiser’s compositions are far from simple, and there’s a cohesiveness present in the recordings that suggests the performers had spent some time with the material before performing it. It would be far too laborious and needless to list each and every musician present on the recording, but the instrumentation utilized includes woodwinds, trumpets, trombone, tuba, guitars (acoustic and electric), electronics, organ, contrabasses, and, of course, percussion. Kaiier’s pieces do a great job of making the listener forget how many players are present, not because they ignore anyone or simply layer multiple performances of the same part, but because his writing is so economical and well-planned that sounds are rarely wasted, and even in 17 Themes most crowded skronk-fests, there’s very little in the way of errant noise or pointless posturing. The Ockodektet creates a lush, deep sound, with the basses of Jim Connolly and Scott Walton providing a perfectly produced low-end tone that acts as the ballast for much of the disc. And though it seems every instrument gets a chance or two to solo, another surprising aspect of 17 Themes is just how important every one of the seventeen musicians is to the overall product. Kaiser leads the group through delicate fluttering, cinematic crescendos, chunky rhythmic numbers, and hailstorms of tumultuous improv, all with an attention to detail that makes almost every moment of the album not only singularly original, but also totally arresting. The quality and depth of tone of the DAT recording of the performance are quite remarkable, and though its Jeff Kaiser that’s rightly the disc’s focal point, the music on 17 Themes is the creation of seventeen equal parts that all play an integral part in the making of the whole.”

    –adam strohm, 2002 nov 1,

    “Nuova opera per il Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet, ensemble improvvisativo tra i più interessanti in circolazione. Affermazione detta non con leggerezza se si presta attenzione alla copertina che da sola meriterebbe l’acquisto del cd. Infatti una filo rosso avvolge quello che sembra un trattato di meccanica seicentesco. Disegni di macchine del passato non più tanto prossimo sono cerchiati e sottolineati con un pennarello che ne identifica e mette in mostra per il lettore neofita la peculiarità, crediamo, acustica. E qualcosa di questa stramba voglia creativa si ritrova nell’opera, divisa in due suites composte di parti con nomi patafisici e surreali quali: “figure con ali”, “un materiale assoluto”, “amplificando i loro paralleli” etc.., etc.. L’ascolto non è da meno nel lesinare sorprese: infatti l’ottodettetto si diverte a frammentare la materia sonica, a impastare e spandere uno strato di rumore, di stridii, di urletti al cuore di ottone (il materiale che dovrebbe comporre gli strumenti disegnati), di intrusioni e fughe colte. Il tutto per un patchwork scientifico/rinascimentale che non stanca ma invoglia a cercare dai rigattieri questi strumenti, (chissà se si trovano più) e suonarli per unirsi a questo grande valzer cacofonico, “assurdamente” gradevole, segno della grande padronanza musicale degli artisti. Così stupiti rimaniamo e la recensione finiamo.”

    –**** [!] Aggiunto: October 10th 2002, Recensore: Marco Paolucci,

    “Anarchy was the first word that came to mind when I started to listen to Ventura, CA-based trumpeter/composer/conductor Jeff Kaiser’s newest recording as leader. But as I became more involved with the music (two suites), the subtle gestures and heavy lines that were obviously written out and masterfully conducted by Kaiser began to root themselves in my brain. But there is a certain rebellious element to his “ockodektet,” a hodgepodge of 17 electro-acoustic musicians. During designated improvised sections, the musicians take their music to the edge and may even go over it.”

    –Amanda MacBlane, Issue 43 – Vol.4, No.7 November 2002 , SoundTracks,

    “You might think that an ockodektet is a group of 18 musicians. Maybe that’s how Jeff Kaiser meant it, maybe not. After all, there are only 17 musicians listed in the liners. Of course, there are only 14 songs (in two suites), so maybe Kaiser is referring to his players (and not the music itself) with that “17.” Hard to say. I will note that I have a number of big dictionaries, and none of them list the “ocko” prefix. I, for one, think the old man is having one over on us.

    I say old because this set was recorded on the occasion of Kaiser’s 40th birthday. Not a bad idea to get a passel of friends together and play some cool music as a celebration.

    The music here sounds like it has its improvisational moments, but in general these pieces are much more controlled (or, say, written out) than most of the stuff I’ve heard from Kaiser. His often whimsical taste is on full display here, putting his percussionist and other rhythmic instrumentalists to the task. Man times, the melody can be counted out rather than hummed.

    This disc surprised me with its delicate structures and deliberate style. I’m used to hearing Kaiser operate in more improvisational settings, but his compositional work is impressive. Hardly conventional (duh), but quite inspiring. A deceptively majestic disc.”

    –Jon Worley,

    “Jeff Kaiser’s New Music for large ensemble relies on free group improvisation. By enlisting the support of veteran jazz artists, all of them highly creative improvisers from an avant-garde stance, he’s able to get his message across clearly and with pleasure for the listener. These two suites of Kaiser’s are performed before a live audience. Impressionism makes this combination of classical music and jazz pique your interests throughout the program. There are a few places, such as in “Dirge” and “Coincidentia Oppositorum,” where the band’s persona takes on a Mingus-like passion and begins to wail in a positive sense…”

    Jim Santella, 1 November 2002,

    “Jeff Kaiser is a great musician (he plays trumpet here and conducts the music) whose skills as improviser and spontaneous musician can be fully [heard] on this CD…An excellent showcase of spontaneity and improvisation.”

    –Federico Marongiu/ Music Extreme, , 10.2002

    “Based in Ventura, California, Jeff Kaiser is an active composer, trumpet player, conductor, and music teacher. He has played with countless musicians in the creative music realm, including Eugene Chadbourne and The Motor Totemist Guild. He has worked in radio and television and is active in promoting modern music concerts in Ventura, CA.

    The ambitious 17 Themes For Ockodektet is one of two recent releases on Kaisers pfMENTUM label. The Ockodektet is a large ensemble consisting of Eric Barber, Vinny Golia, Emily Hay and Lynn Johnston on woodwinds, Don Clucas and Kris Tiner on trumpets, Eric Sbar on euphonium and valve-trombone, Mark Weaver on tuba, Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared acoustic guitar, G.E. Stinson on electric guitar and electronics, Wayne Peet on organ, theremin and electronics, Jim Connolly and Scott Walton on contrabasses, Billy Mintz on drums, Brad Dutz on percussion, and Jeff Kaiser on trumpet and conducting.

    Recorded live at Ventura, CA City Hall on Kaiser’s 40th birthday in late 2001, this sizable ensemble incorporates both classical and jazz influences. The music comfortably inhabits both the classical and jazz worlds, at times sounding like a horn/wind driven symphony, but also having a cosmic cool jazz sound with those beautiful low end contrabass notes keeping a slow but steady pace. Jazz and classical often come together as the ensemble heads into highly intense thematic orchestral territory with jazz still rearing it’s much welcome head throughout. The spirit of the Sun Ra Arkestra fills the air, though the orchestral elements keep the music firmly on it’s own personal Ockodektet plane. Imagine the Arkestra performing their rendition of Peter and the Wolf and you might get something like the Ockodektet.

    The ensemble continually transitions between slower and fiery chaotic segments, the slower moments being highly passionate in which each instrument is distinct amongst the whole… each blow on a horn or wind instrument standing on the podium to make its statement, and haunting electronic swirls can sometimes be heard as a dark backdrop. Overall, a thoroughly captivating 73 minutes of modern music for large ensemble.”

    –Jerry Kranitz , Aural Innovations, 10.2002,

    “The avant-garde big band is a fascinating concept…and an elusive one. How do you get a united sound in a genre requiring individuality? Can a roomful of players blow freely, without it dissolving in chaos? On his 40th birthday, trumpeter Jeff Kaiser led 17 instruments through two vivid suites, where colors are many and emotions change fast.

    Opening to thick applause, “Dirge” pairs a drunk bass clarinet with a lazy tuba, walking in sad slithers. This sounds traditional and modern at once – shades of Albert Ayler. Throaty at first, the reed becomes bolder, fiercer; a hum starts in the brass section, and percussion creeps in like radio static. With encouragement from the crowd, the whole band enters like a New Orleans parade gone mad. Suddenly they’re all twittering, and we start the second movement, “Clad Like Birds”.

    A tenor hits long, wavering notes; these are answered by Kaiser, blowing in a soft transparent tone. This is more of a dirge than the first number, and the horns scream a finale, stark and powerful. From here we move to gentler things: “Amplifying Their Moods” is a study for organ (Wayne Peet), steel drums (Brad Dutz), and an earthy, Rahsaan-like flute. The musicians react in astonishing fashion: a phrase by Jeff is continued on oboe, concluded by soprano sax…or it could be the same instrument played two different ways! At the end are crackling woodwinds, a loud series of oom-pahs (!) and Peet’s organ, which starts in a churchyard and ends in a haunted house. This music can change instantaneously – a good match for the genre and those who play in it. You won’t find this instrumentation any place else: the group includes two basses, two guitars, three percussionists, one trombone (on a valve model, yet) and some very talented reeds. The most famous among them are Peet and West Coast icon Vinny Golia (Kaiser plays in the Golia Large Ensemble, another avant-garde big band.) “Even with Diagrams” finds the brass on parade, a slow walk leading into shrill clusters. Unrelated to jazz, this piece feels like the classical music written in the ‘Sixties. The solemn texture is upset by a cantankerous baritone sax (probably Golia); after this, all goes wild. Jeff’s fluttering solo is nice, along with the drums behind him.
    “One Absolute Material” is a feature for the drummers; Peet helps out with some flying-saucer noises. There is a loud whisper on “Figure of This In-Between” – muted horns, covered by a windy synthesizer. From there you get frantic saxwork, a chorus of chirping reeds, and, on “Figure with Wings”, a pair of giddy flutes, chasing each other in glee. An ominous tuba (Mark Weaver) glowers in the background, drums surge and then fade – the flutes stay the same, but their mood is altered by the things around them. Flamboyant horns close the suite with a blare that rivals “Ascension”. It’s uneven, and unfocused at times, but also shows talent, strength, and ingenuity – as I said, a fascinating concept. The second suite, more formal in structure, reminds me of the composer Toru Takemitsu in its use of open space. Following a pompous fanfare, “Coincidentia Oppositorium” is a workout for Ernesto Diaz-Infante, twanging the strings in a rusty jangle. The fanfare sounds again, and we’re now in a jungle of flutes and bells. This gives way to brass, wailing a lament on “Where His Third Eye Could Be”. The basses take their only solo (one bowed, one plucked) over steel drums and electronic squiggles. The highlight here is the baritone, slithering like a gator through the swamp. A heady stomp comes next, then a meditation for soprano, followed by exotica on “There Is No Profit from Dreams”. Woody phrases emanate from the alto flute, while muted horns buzz like mosquitoes. This piece is the softest, the most accessible…the best in the collection. (Check out the weird noises at the end; sounds like a melting guitar!)

    “Into That Nothing-Between” is our sendoff, blending soap-opera organ, smoldering bongos, a horn riff based on “The Theme”, and a raft of electronics. It sounds like the dial has stopped between stations – noisy, but pleasant. The closing cacophonous rush is worthy of “A Day in the Life”, and ends on a similar Big Chord. The resulting work is expansive, expressive, and surprising in a number of ways. Worth hearing if you seek the unusual.”

    –John Barrett ,, Vol 06 – Issue 11 – November 2002

    “While this came via Pax Recordings, and Ernesto Diaz-Infante is on it, the album deserves a separate review as it is quite different. Arriving in a folded card sleeve, tied with red string, images of strange Victorian equipment on it, the album was recorded on Kaiser’s 40th birthday in 2001. The instrumentation includes woodwind, trumpets, euphonium, tuba, guitars, electronics, organ and theremin, contrabasses, drums and percussion with composer and conductor (of the 16 other people) Kaiser also on trumpet. (There are 14 tracks, so I have inserted a comma in the title, which makes more sense to me.)

    This is a VERY big band which plays two continuous suites. From the sound I am assuming it is a composed improvisation, with overall directions, themes and continuity provided by Kaiser, but with freedom within those boundaries. The size and scope make it hard to describe ˆ in many ways it approaches classical music in its structure and arrangement ˆ large movements taking the music in various directions.

    Some pointers: brass, particularly the trumpet (of course) are the main leading instrument, although most others get solo’s of various lengths; there are a few stylistic continuities ˆ often the brass work by layering long notes that may harmonise building tonal structures, a pulsing of the whole orchestra occurs a few times; there is an underlying sonority to the themes; and there is a regular movement between lighter restrained solos and sections and building dense aggregates of sound approaching a controlled cacophony.
    The ‘Dirge’ opens the first suite and allows the solo trumpet to fly over soft slow accompaniment of tuba, shakers and muted trumpet into a crescendo of strings. The tonal layering is seen in ‘Clad like birds’ after a pizzicato orchestral eruption. Softness accentuated by a flute solo, which then duets with the trumpet followed by a clarinet solo in ‘Amplifying the parallels’. All around the other instruments create a percussive clatter, supporting the foreground ˆ throughout the balance between the group and solo instruments is maintained ˆ it never feels like extraneous filler. The group then begin to pulse, building to one of the many climaxes, the trumpet emerging then fading to strings which continue in the light mystery of ‘Nothing may be taken naturally’. The album continues with many highlights and developments from here on in ˆ trying to describe the whole is beyond me but some passages: the tonal layers leading through a chattering pattery period before a solo with lovely support in ”Even with diagrams’; the shift from light hearted woodwinds to an elephant march in ‘One absolute material’; tribal moods of ‘Figures to be actualities’ that lead to the flute pastoral ‘Figure with wings’ that pulses to the conclusion of the first suite. The second opens lyrically before the acoustic guitar gets its solo with tuba and percussion; soft brass melding into tuned percussion in ‘Where his third eye could be’; the extended flute solo, another pastoral passage for ‘There is no profit from dreams’ which also has a restrained trumpet solo after a pulsation; and the organ and bass solo that opens the finale, ‘Into that nothing-between’.

    Those are mere hints and tasters, as the album has a continuity and depth which is hard to describe, and none of the 17 instrumentalists (playing more instruments than that ˆ though the Theremin is unfortunately not foregrounded) ever seem extraneous, whether they are soloing, supporting or participating in one of the dramatic group extravagances. This is a wonderful album of controlled freedom, flowing freely and lyrically. A very pleasant surprise from my letter box!”

    –Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera 2002_15,

    “It is unclear what an Ockodektet exactly is, but this unit of seventeen musicians sports a radically free improvisatory aesthetic that combines the thrust of a traditional big jazz band with the sonorities of a chamber-like avant-garde ensemble. This is very much trumpeter Jeff Kaiser’s show: He composed and arranged all the tunes, recorded and produced the CD, and presumably tied the string bow on each individual package. The group includes some of the best of the West Coast scene: names such as reed phenom Vinny Golia and radical guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante. Kaiser’s solos are surprisingly accessible given the somewhat disjointed nature of his arrangements, which challenge the performers with complex rhythms and patterns. Whether focusing on lovely flute tones, or Wagnerian blasts of brass, Kaiser succeeds in holding the listener’s attention without compromising the integrity of his vision…Kaiser’s paths sound surprisingly fresh and even the more static ensemble parts are filled with pregnant rumblings. Unfortunately, individual soloists are unidentified, but some of the intense reed work (Golia?) (for example, on “Figures to be Actualities,”) is strikingly impressive.”

    –Steven Loewy,, 10.2002

    “I just wanted to thank you for sending me your wonderful disc…I very much appreciate having had an opportunity to hear your work. You’re a hell of a composer/arranger, kind of like a re-born Henry Brant (only hipper)…”

    –Walter Horn, musician

    “It’s a careening blend of jazz and classical. Some textures suggest the ideas of classical composer John Cage, other parts feature swinging and grooving along the lines of the great jazz bassist-composer Charles Mingus, and there’s improvisation that might remind some of “free jazz” legend Ornette Coleman or the later works of fellow saxophone giant John Coltrane.”

    –Brett Johnson, Ventura Star, 5 September 2002, time out, p18

    “17 Themes for Ockodektet di Jeff Kaiser (pubblicato da pfMENTUM), è la registrazione del più bel regalo di compleanno che il trombettista americano potesse farsi. In occasione del party che si è tenuto a Ventura, nel sud della California, l’otto dicembre del 2001, il trombettista ha sottoposto due suite da lui composte (per un totale di quasi 74 minuti di musica, suddivisi in quattordici movimenti) agli strumenti di sedici amici musicisti (con lui fanno diciassette, numero che, notoriamente, in America, non porta male) per celebrare alla grande il suo quarantesimo compleanno. Sono della partita il multistrumentista Vinny Golia, il chitarrista sperimentatore Ernesto Diaz-Infante, il chitarrista elettrico G.E Stinson, il percussionista Brad Dutz, il batterista Billy Mintz e altri musicisti meno noti, ma non per questo di minor valore. La musica corre via con grande forza espressiva, quasi sempre tutta basata sull’improvvisazione collettiva. Una musica di insieme che sa però mettere in grande evidenza anche le doti solistiche degli artisti qui impegnati, spesso esposti in assoli che diventano duetti, trii, quartetti. Dialoghi affascinati che si instaurano e si consolidano sul magma sonoro proveniente da diciassette anime che pulsano all’unisono. L’ampiezza dell’ensemble permette escursioni dinamiche impressionanti, ben catturate dalla registrazione diretta su DAT, l’entusiasmo del pubblico presente è ben evidente e produce un effetto contagioso anche sui musicisti che paiono capaci di risvegliare emozioni nascoste e misteriose, di grande intensità e profondità. Buon compleanno, Jeff Kaiser.”

    Maurizio Comandini , March 2003,

    “Jeff Kaiser, Ventura’s stalwart champion of improvised and experimental music, turned 40 recently and put on a birthday bash in suitable style. The public was invited, and they showed up in droves to Ventura City Hall…The tall wooden statue of Padre Serra in the atrium seemed to stand over the proceedings like a sentry who looked a bit suspicious of the mayhem unfolding…What the crowd heard was a classic, yet special, Kaiser event, as he led his ad hoc ensemble [The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet], 16 players strong, made up mostly of musicians from Los Angeles’ left-end jazz scene…Kaiser assumed his command post to summon an ensemble sound that was alternately big and anarchic, then soft and ethereal…It was that kind of night, with echoes and ideas freely bouncing off the walls. At the end, even Padre Serra seemed impressed.”

    –Josef Woodard, “A Heavenly Mix of Musical Styles.” LA Times, Calendar Weekend, 20 December 2001, p45.

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