Miller Wrenn’s Escapist: Alternates (PFMCD121b)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="3704"]

Miller Wrenn – Double Bass
Vinny Golia – Bass Clarinet
Ethan Marks – Trumpet and Piccolo Trumpet
Caleb Veazey – Guitar
Clint Dodson – Drum Set and Vibraphone

Recorded on May 9, 2017 by John Baffa at Brotheryn Studios in Ojai, CA
Mixed and Mastered by John Baffa at TV Tray Studios in Ventura, CA
Album artwork by Parker Wrenn

All compositions by Miller Wrenn, © 2018 Miller Wrenn Music, ASCAP

PFMCD121b

Richard Valitutto / Dave Wilson: SLANT (PFMCD121)

Jeff Kaiser

SLANT

Richard Valitutto, piano
Dave Wilson, tenor saxophone

[playlist ids="2819"]

1. set (zajdi) (3:42)
2. enviros (2:12)
3. -i—e- (8:59)
4. suspiros (3:08)
5. what is the name of that (4:56)
6. poeme (3:13)
7. me then you then me then you then me (2:47)
8. p-tch-s (7:01)
9. you then me then you then me then you (3:46)
10. rise (2:42)

All compositions by Richard Valitutto and Dave Wilson
Recorded and mixed by Vanessa Parr at the Recording Studio at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Los Angeles, June 10-11 and 27-28, 2016
Mastered by Justin DeHart, Anaheim, California, January 16-17, 2017
Additional engineering by Lorenzo Bühne, Wellington, New Zealand, January 17, 2017
©2018, Richard Valitutto Music (ASCAP) and Hamlin Lake Publishing (ASCAP)
Graphic Design by Ted Killian

The Aaron Copland Fund forMusic (logo)

Special thanks to the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording Program, the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and the Longy School of Music of Bard College for their generous financial support of this album project. Additional thanks to Jeff Kaiser, Maxwell Gualtieri, and the entire team at pfMENTUM for their edifying interest in and unflagging patience with this project’s development over the last few years as just one part of their admirable long-term efforts to strengthen and bring together the experimental/creative music community at large through the recording arts.

pfMENTUM CD121
www.pfmentum.com

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SLANT bears the marks of our interest in exploring possibilities as performers composing together instantaneously and spontaneously. This project came together over a period of months, as we cultivated improvisational compositions, revisited them as compositional improvisations, and—circling back repeatedly—layered on top of each the lingering remnants of previous iterations. Tethered as they are to our personal musical pasts, intersections, and divergences, the sounds on these recordings push and pull one another into our own comfortable and uncomfortable areas as listeners and players, leading us into new ways of feeling the air move around us, and moving through that air and into it ourselves.

The recordings of this project came to life just before—and in the midst of—a liminal period when my own path was diverted. It shifted unexpectedly but by my own choice, in a direction that I knew, at the time, would open and close other paths and set new directions. For Richard and (especially) for me, the awareness of my impending departure from Los Angeles permeated the ways the sounds were conceived at all stages of composition, including their capture in recorded form.

The interplay, the interaction, the ways that we move with and against one another —all of these gestures in SLANT take oblique pathways that don’t so much lead to a hoped-for culmination but, instead, end up in a place not previously conceived.

Dave Wilson
Wellington, New Zealand
June 2018

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The pathways spiraling out of set (zajdi) originate in Macedonia, where Dave has been immersed in sound worlds that involve at least a thread of music either emerging from—or gesturing towards—rural life. “Zajdi, zajdi jasno sonce” (Set, set bright sun) is a popular traditional song that slowly unfolds, allowing the singer to display their melismatic facility and virtuosity. The song’s lyrics address the bright sun (telling it to set) and the bright moon (telling it to drown itself). When the text eventually turns to address the forest (which is the “sister” of the singer) it tells it to darken itself along with the singer: the forest for its leaves, the singer for their youth. The last words of the text lament: “your leaves, O forest sister, will return to you again; my youth, O forest sister, will not return to me.” Typically a mournful song drenched in beauty, our reading of the song also shows the aggression and darkness of youth’s furious passing. Forming the melodic and dramatic foundation of this work, the agitated, plangent saxophone lines are supported by a piano part that was directly inspired by another southeastern European influence: the Romanian spectral composer Horațiu Rădulescu, particularly his late piano sonatas.

In enviros we explore the “inner world” of both instruments’ sounds: piano harmonics and saxophone subtones. The compositional concept in this case is not so much linear or narrative as “environmental.” This yields a different improvised performance each time it’s performed, while the piece retains the same distinct feeling and texture. (In the same way that a certain patch of landscape or a particular city street is always identifiably itself and yet is shaped and reshaped anew by those that move through it, the light that strikes it, and the weather patterns that color it from day to day.) Air, space, and resonance come in and out of contact with one another, the shimmering microtonal harmonies trembling as they layer, creating the environmental texture.

-i—e- is a compositional structure based on one of the synthetic scales created by the boundary-pushing American composer, alto saxophonist, bass clarinetist, and flautist Eric Dolphy. In -i—e-, saxophonist and pianist take turns improvising cadenza-like monologues within the scale’s prismatic world of fleeting tonal allusions. After the extended solos, the players converge in ecstatic agreement on a composed melodic head based on the scale, the apotheosis of the improvisation. The instruments guide one another along self-generated paths to assume new trajectories that, for a moment, briefly converge.

suspiros sounds the sighing exasperation, release, and mourning of impending departure, loss, and gain in an impromptu ballad. Super- imposing a microtonal saxophone melody over a tonal/modal piano accompaniment, this piece doesn’t settle or provide catharsis, but remains and persists— pushing and pulling as it breathes in and out.
what is the name of that leans heavily on Ornette Coleman and Prime Time. It takes Coleman’s “What is the name of that song?” and places his horn line on hammers and strings, recasts the electric bass on the horn and interweaves the guitars and drums parts throughout. Multiple melodies, temporalities, and tone colors point this performance in many directions, folding it back again on itself with new creases, and finishing in manic abandon.

poeme is a musing on the mystical, color-drenched music of the late-Romantic early-20th century Russian composer Aleksandr Skryabin, specifically, Opus 69, No. 1, one of his many “Poèmes” for solo piano. This performance takes direct inspiration from the many accounts of the pianist-composer’s seemingly improvised performances of his own works, further illuminated by his idiosyncratic rhythmic notation and a harmonic language almost entirely derived from his synthetic chords.

When we conceptualized me then you then me then you then me, we took turns leading, following, and finding the space in between the constructed dichotomy of leading and following.
p-tch-s is a systematic progression through the anatomy of the instruments themselves, moving from one tactile space to another, embracing sonic possibilities and realizing points of intersection just as they are slipping away.
We’re taking turns again in you then me then you then me then you, but this time you are following me, and then I follow you.

The patterns that emerge from rise point to something new, something incomplete and unformed, something not yet known or not to be known, something that remains, more uncertainties, fewer known ways ahead, acknowledging that perhaps closure is best reached via more questions and fewer explanations.

Richard Valitutto,
Los Angeles, CA – New York, NY
Dave Wilson,
Wellington, New Zealand
July 2018

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PFMCD121

Phil Skaller and Danny Holt Duo: Music of Mark Dresser (PFMCD062)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="510"]
Phil Skaller and Danny Holt Duo: Music of Mark Dresser

1 Flac (5:12)
2 Flocus (13:09)
3 Para Waltz (10:48)
4 Digestivo (9:37)
5 Aperitivo (12:33)

Philip Skaller and Danny Holt: pianos, celeste, toy piano, melodica, percussion
All compositions by Mark Dresser (Del Dresser Music/ASCAP)
Arrangements by Philip Skaller and Danny Holt
Recorded October and November 2008 and June 2009 at Roy O. Disney Music Hall, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
Piano Technician: Alan Eder
Engineered by Steve Rusch
Edited and Mixed by Edmund P. Monsef at The Hacienda, Los Angeles, CA
Mastered by Jeff Kaiser
Artwork by Iva Gueorguieva
Graphic Design by Ted Killian
Executive Producer: Danny Holt
This recording was made possible in part by a Subito grant from the Los Angeles chapter of the American Composers Forum.
© 2010 Philip Skaller and Danny Holt

I was quite surprised when Phil Skaller approached me about recording a whole CD of my compositions in duo with Danny Holt. Though I had composed this music between 1994 and 2008 for my own groups, and arranged it for various formations, I had never imagined it for two pianos.

I’ve known Phil since 2002 when he was my teaching assistant at Hampshire College in an improvisation class. I introduced some of my tunes to the students and Phil, especially, devoured the music and its improvisational concepts. I had been hearing the praises of Danny Holt for years from Phil, but it was not until 2008 that I first heard this duo perform a suite of my compositions at UC San Diego. I was quite impressed and flattered by the wit, musical virtuosity, and pure improvisational fantasy that these two gifted young musicians brought to my music.

The compositions represented on this CD were conceived as abstractions and deconstructions of known jazz forms and related idiomatic music. What Phil Skaller and Danny Holt have done is to deconstruct my deconstructions. They have taken my music in directions that I doubt that I would have ever conceived and in some ways, made the music more flexible and malleable.

The first track, Flac, recorded on “Aquifer” (Cryptogramophone), was originally designed as a rhythmically gear-shifting Klezmer-like tune that improvisationally develops from the material itself and returns to the theme. Phil and Danny’s version has a rhythmic and sound character reminiscent of both Conlon Nancarrow’s studies for player piano and John Cage’s works for prepared piano. The alternation of fragments of the tune and its improvisational implications comes in waves, yet a thread of the thematic materials is always present.
Flocus was composed for trumpet, voice, bass, piano and drums and recorded on “Force Green” (Soul Note). It was conceived as four independent lines, each in a different meter, which are layered one upon another and developed in collective improvisation. Phil and Danny’s version takes a different direction, introducing a more classical theme and variation approach, while each of the lines independently develops outside of the tempo grid. This interpretation, though referring to themes, transcends the materials and becomes a springboard for episodes of virtuoso invention and dramatic return.

Para Waltz was composed as a vehicle to melodically and harmonically improvise on a metric modulating jazz waltz. Danny and Phil’s interpretation takes a very different direction, initially eschewing the tempo aspect and focusing on a more spacious approach, layering the timbres of glockenspiel, piano, and piano harmonics. The temporal aspect isn’t highlighted until midway, with the introduction of cymbals demarcating the time. The thematic material is finally introduced whole and floats on out.

Similarly Digestivo, recorded on “Aquifer” and “The Marks Brothers” (W.E.R.F), was conceived to create a metric modulating twelve-bar blues in B-flat. My idea was to abstract the idea of ‘substitute changes’ traditionally applied to jazz harmony and apply it to the domain of tempo. Unlike the original, which has a single underlying tempo throughout, Danny and Phil’s version is freer, starting out of time. They eventually introduce the tune and the different tempos, but in the end, leave the form completely, in an expansive and satisfying way.

Aperitivo, composed for piano, bass, and voice, is an even more abstract version of the blues than Digestivo. Recorded on “Time Changes” (Cryptogramophone), this slower metric modulating twenty-four bar form in C minor doesn’t even articulate the ground pulse, creating a feel that is inherently looser and less polyrhythmic than Digestivo. Phil Skaller and Danny Holt’s version is an extremely inventive and expansive finale to the CD, utilizing pianos, toy piano, melodica, and percussion. Improvisationally, they’ve chosen an even more abstract approach, which alternates the gestalt of tempo changes of the head and a freer approach that abstracts motifs, melody, and an almost fugue-like beginning. At about minute nine the tune grinds into a vamp, modulates faster, and phases, juxtaposing shreds of the melody back into the vamp, and returning to the twenty-four bar head.

Hearing Phil Skaller and Danny Holt’s interpretations of my music is both affirming and inspiring. I am impressed with the combination of their virtuoso playing, interpretative skills, and pure musical imagination. I look forward to hearing what they do next.

Mark Dresser
September 2010

pfMENTUM CD062

PFMCD062

Dr. Mint / Daniel Rosenboom: Visions and Nightmares (PFMCD049)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="465"]
Dr. Mint

Daniel Rosenboom: Trumpet and piccolo trumpet
Gavin Templeton: Alto saxophone
Alex NoiceElectric: guitar and vox samplinga
Sam MinaieElectric: bass and effect loops
Caleb Dolister: Drum set

This recording marks the first meeting of Dr. Mint.
” Visions and Nightmares” and “Apocalyptica”
are two entirely improvised suites that were
recorded in two consecutive takes on August 26, 2007.
This album is unabridged, uncut, and unedited.

Visions and Nightmares:

1. First Light 3:02

2. Gathering 2:45

3. Fire Flight 7:04

4. Submerge 2:52

5. Duel in the Deep 6:10

6. Breach 3:36

7. Waiting… 2:22

Apocalyptica:

8. Prophecy 0:25

9. Soma 3:47

10. Chasing Dreams 5:38

11. Rift 5:16

12. Dance for Fire Reign 4:49

13. The Horsemen Ride 3:22

14. Wasteland 3:22

15. Summon the Shadow Sun 8:08

All Music © 2008, Daniel Rosenboom Music, ASCAP

Recorded by John Baffa, TV Tray Studios
Mixed and Mastered by John Baffa and Daniel Rosenboom
Cover art, design, and layout by Daniel Rosenboom

pfMENTUM CD049

PFMCD049