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

Brad Dutz and John Holmes: My Bongo (PFMCD012)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="379"]

Percussion Duos
list of axii used:
1. Gongs, Cymbals, Cupchimes
2. Kidi, Sogo, Kagan
3. Indianbells, Bird Call, Cymbals, Springs, Gongs, Pods, Harmonica, Conga, Drumset
4. Marimba, Drumset, Woodblocks, Cupchimes
5. Bellchimes, Pandiero, Congas, Drumset, Arp Axxe, Cowbells
6. Eight Metal Discs, Cupchimes, Pods
7. Xylophone, Steel Drum, Drumset
8. Two sets of Bongos
9. Drumset, Congas, Bongos, Cymbals
10. Vibes, Drumset
11. Tabla, Drumset, Caxixi, Gyli, Melodica
12. Crotales, Drumset, String Cajon,
Tar-Ine, Bongos, Waterphone
13. Gyli, Drumset, Cajon, Kagan, Kidi, Sogo, Bowed Crotales
14. Glass Marimba, Drumset
15. Bougarabous, Bongos, Drumset
16. Gongs, Cymbals, Cupchimes

Track List:
1. We Like Gongs 5:14
2. Ewe Day 3:18
3. Indiana 2:27
4. Peanut Jelly 3:43
5. Caught In The Middle 4:22
6. Klem 5:09
7. Croquets 4:35
8. My Bongo 2:30
9. Tribute To Elvin 6:36
10. B-17 Apricot Seeds 4:04
11. DuoSolos 5:55
12. Pig On Cow 6:39
13. Another One Pumpkin 4:54
14. Is She Mute 3:28
15. Bougarabou 4:53
16. We Still Like Gongs 4:12

Tracks 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 14 and 15 by Brad Dutz
©2003 Leaky Spleen Music, BMI

Tracks 4, 12 and 13 by John Holmes
©2003 Cymblicity Music, BMI

Artwork by Kaoru, Cover: Iro #212, Back: Iro #168
Recorded by Brad Dutz. CD Mastered by Wayne Peet

Layout and Design by Jeff Kaiser
pfMENTUM CD012

PFMCD012

William C. Harrington: Urban Electronic Music (AVRCD005)

William C. Harrington: Urban Electronic Music (AVRCD005)

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[cue id="229"]

1. The Overture (5:00)
2. God Bless the Miners (3:40)
3. Enola Gay (4:30)
4. Cuckoo to You (3:57)
5. Belles I (0:40)
6. Remnants (5:14)
7. Jungle Birds (3:03)
8. Days Left (5:16)
9. Organ Song part 1 (6:01)
10. Belles II (2:01)
11. My Guitar (4:04)
12. BOX (3:48)
13. One For Nick (2:55)
14. I Slept Through Vespers (4:53)

Equipment used: Arp 2600, Kawai K4, E-mu Classic Keys, Roland VK-7, CA-30, CM-32L, soprano sax, electric guitar, bowed electric guitar, glass salad bowls, communion bells, cell phone, army bugle, Max/MSP, Radial, GarageBand, vocalizations and loops

Composed, realized, produced and engineered by William C. Harrington
All pieces recorded between 4/05 and 8/05 at the WCH Electronic Music Lab, except Enola Gay which was recorded in 1973 at Cal State Domiguez Hills Electronic Music Lab

Mastered by Scott Fraser at Architecture, Los Angeles, CA
Photos: William C. Harrington • Graphic Arts: Justin Cassidy
© 2006 William C. Harrington, ASCAP • UrbanElectronicMusic.com

William C. Harrington was born January 10th, 1952 in Yonkers, New York. His grandmother played piano at silent movie theaters and had quite an influence on him: by the time he was a sophomore in high school, he was working as a professional musician playing parties, roller-skating rinks, and more.

While at Cal State Dominguez Hills (now UC Dominguez Hills) he studied composition, performance, and electronic music with Richard Bunger, who authored the classic book, “The Well Prepared Piano.”

After leaving college he worked in the wholesale record industry for two years before going on tour. First with Natalie Cole doing lighting, then with Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa (making a brief, credited appearance in Zappa’s movie, “Baby Snakes”), LTD, Rick Derringer, and Rick James, all in various technical positions.

In the 80’s he became the Supervisor of Operations, Videotape Operations, Paramount Pictures Corp. In that capacity, he received four ATAS Emmy certificates for contributions for “Cheers,” one for “The Arsenio Hall Show,” plus one for best sitcom, again, “Cheers.” In 1990 he became a freelance videotape engineer – doing videoasst, 24 frame playback – and Technical Director. Credits have included “Little Black Book” and “Alpha Dog” as well as several sitcoms.

Urban Electronic Music was constructed using loops recorded over a 30-year period, analog and digital synthesis, as well as traditional instruments and found objects.

AVRCD005