Steuart Liebig / The Mentones: Angel City Dust (PFMCD057)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="482"]
The Mentones

Tony Atherton: alto saxophone
Joseph Berardi: drumset, percussion
Bill Barrett: chromatic harmonica
Steuart Liebig: contrabassguitars

this is an uprising. intonations that the physical world is meaningless tonight and there is no other. liebig with the sound of pianos in his head walks the city creating a logic not to be distinguished from lunacy. his stanzas hang like hives in some fauvist hell where berardi flaps the fire’s bellow, the wind that stokes, the actual bite; where barrett’s flitterings sparkle like eyesight falling to earth, scribbling a primitive astronomy amongst atherton’s groaning expletives, reed as beast of light.

this is an uprising. a kind of elegy found in space, more than an imitation for the ear. it’s in the hues not chosen or chosen quickly in an elemental freedom, flying as insects of fire into a cavern of sound where all have converged upon a common image, illimitable spheres, the law of causation suspended. liebig, brown as bread dreaming of birds. barrett, shrill as glass that will not melt in the heat. berardi, bottles clanking, water fluttering. atherton, a diviner of foam. this is a tour of shifting scenes, voices in the clouds, lion in the lute, articulate fangs, salvation through barbarous chanting. the discord ferments as liebig, a damned universal clock existing in multiple time zones, wields his groove, totemic, a hammock, monolithic. berardi, unrelenting saboteur toppling boats. and listen to that, barrett’s ululation in the city of a burning cloud, where atherton deals in the sweet vertical.

this is an uprising. of metaphysical wailers, crazed rhapsodical sound poets in the hot blast clatter of invention, where liebig, the steward, the sober man still dancing, calls ravens down from the sky.

– scot ray, montana, 3.09

fingeroo – – 1:02
wool – – 5:27
all gone – – 4:10
empty – – 2:48
locustland – – 3:52
fire & ice – – 4:21
lonelyheart – – 7:13
slow burn fever – – 5:30
kingfish – – 4:03
out, down and over – – 5:30
headlock – – 3:12
peach tree – – 2:53
topped off – – 5:32

gear thanks: fodera basses,thomastik-infeld strings,
nordstrand pickups, mike cooper,
rick turner and raven labs; seydel harmonicas, ben bouman and pat missin; paiste cymbals

photos/montages/layout
by steuart liebig
band photos by wayne peet
recorded at newzone studio, 10–11 january 2009, by wayne peet,
assisted by ellington peet; mixed at newzone studio,
by wayne peet and steuart liebig, mar vista, california, 2009

pfMENTUM CD057

PFMCD057

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

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

Jeff Kaiser

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

The Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet: Suite Solutio

The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet with The Ojai Camerata

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liner Notes:

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

-Anonymous Alchemical Quote

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

-C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

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

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

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

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

Gloria in excelsis

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

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

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

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

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

pfMENTUM CD019

PFMCD019

Rich West: Bedouin Hornbook (PFMCD016)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="387"]
Rich West Bedouin Hornbook

Chris Heenan: bass clarinet, alto saxophone
Bruce Friedman: trumpet
Jeremy Drake: electric guitar
Scot Ray: eb tuba
Rich West: drums

1. Bugge 11:20
2. Tribology 6:34
3. Twang 14:41
4. Tread 8:22
5. Friends of the Vacuum 9:00
6. Tychai 1 and 2 7:25
7. Curly 4:10
8. Furcifer 6:44
Total Time 68:16

All compositions by Rich West
©2004, Richwest Recordings, ASCAP
Recorded April 29, 2002 and March 12, 2003
Recorded and Mastered by Scott Fraser
Mixed by Rich West and Scott Fraser
at Architecture, Los Angeles, CA
CD Design and Layout by Jeremy Drake and Jeff Kaiser

“The sad thing about L.A. is that it’s hard keeping people in the same room for extended periods of time.”
— Rich West

The title is from a book by Nate Mackey, which I haven’t read. However, in the spirit of Richard Meltzer’s infamous “previews” of bands to whom he’s neither listened or talked prior to writing about them, I’ll concentrate on the nomadic implications of Bedouin (from Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language); nomad, “a member of a tribe, nation or race having no permanent home, but moving about constantly in search of food, pasture, etc.”, and suggest that this band is composed of nomads as only an L.A. band can be. Luckily, Rich West was able to get them in the same room at least long enough to produce this exuberant album. It’s not just that the tunes (he says, “everyone had a hand in some of the arrangements”) are strong and interesting (shades of Igor Stravinsky, Frank Zappa, Nino Rota), the playing — both written and improvised — is, too.

A surprising variety of moods and textures is developed, ranging from the inviting and theatrical “welcome to the show” feel of Tribology to the especially attractive Gyuto-Monks-meet-Fellini scenario on Twang. The sounds are oddly appealing in some non-traditional ways (murky trumpet, bell-like guitar). When it’s all over, you feel as if you’ve been someplace new. I can’t imagine any other five players who could play this music and make that happen. This is music that knows the difference between self-expression and self-indulgence, for which we should all be very happy.

— Dorothea Grossman, Los Angeles, CA, October 2003

pfMENTUM CD016

PFMCD016

Jason Robinson / Janus Ensemble: Resonant Geographies (PFMLP115)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="1360"]

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

Resonant Geographies
Jason Robinson

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

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

Track Titles:

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

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

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

Side D:
Outcropping (12:14)

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

https://youtu.be/-43JeWvAKRI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This album is dedicated to George Finney Thomason.

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

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

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

pfMENTUM
PFMLP115
www.pfmentum.com

Jason Robinson / Janus Ensemble: Resonant Geographies (PFMCD115)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="1360"]

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

Resonant Geographies
Jason Robinson

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

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

Track Titles:

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

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

https://youtu.be/-43JeWvAKRI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This album is dedicated to George Finney Thomason.

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

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

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

pfMENTUM
PFMCD115
www.pfmentum.com

Dick Wood: Not Far From Here (PFMCD065)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="514"]
Dick Wood: Not Far From Here

Dick Wood: alto sax, flute, whistle, boom box

Dan Clucas: cornet, flute, octokoto, other sounds

Hal Onserud: bass

Mark Trayle: live electronics with Supercollider graphics

Marty Mansour: drums, percussion on tracks 1 and 3

Dan Ostermann: trombone with space mute

Chuck Manning: tenor saxophone, percussion

1 Ignatious 7:05
2 Mango Season 1 1 : 1 1
3 Cook the Books 8 : 1 1
4 Not Far From Here 8:35
5 No Known Knowns 7:29
6 And Now 5:07

Not Far from Here
dick wood
All compositions by Dick Wood
© 2011 Zyc Slick Productions

recorded by Scott Fraser at Architecture, Los Angeles
June 15 & (tracks 1 & 3) Oct. 19, 2008
mastered by Wayne Peet, April 2011, Newzone Studio, Los Angeles
all compositions by Dick Wood
cover photo by Steve DeGroodt
model Sapna Khurama
liner notes Paul Wood
graphics Patt Narrowe
special gratitude to Scott Fraser,
Bobby Bradford, Nels Cline,
Bonnie Barnett, Woody Aplanalp,
Lewis Jordan, Ben and Linda Wood,
Sue Dorsey, Lissa Callaghan,
John Wood, Joanne Parker
thanks to
Emily Hay, Kay Sera, Noriko Honma
© 2011 zyc slick productions

pfMENTUM CD065

PFMCD065

Bonnie Barnett Group: In Between Dreams (PFMCD063)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="512"]
Bonnie Barnett Group: In Between Dreams

1. Badinage 4:00
2. Matisse* 8:24
(verbatim text: Gertrude Stein)
3. In Between Dreams 5:21
4. Primordial 8:18
5. Nothingness† 10:27
(verbatim text: Jean-Paul Sartre)
6. Set In Stone 4:14
7. Shambala 8:01

TOTAL TIME: 49:15

Bonnie Barnett: vocals
Richard Wood: alto sax, flute, bass clarinet
Hal Onserud: bass
Garth Powell: percussion

All music FMZ Music Co. (BMI) All rights reserved.
All music © pfMentum
For more information: www.pfmentum.com

Bonnie Barnett is an improviser of unusual clarity. A cornerstone of the Los Angeles New Music scene, and the composer of the TUNNEL HUMs, Barnett has mightily contributed to the worlds of contemporary classical music and improvisation and is one of Los Angeles’ hidden treasures. Barnett’s impressive array of vocal extensions creates a personal world of sonic texture that is unrivaled. Barnett’s new CD finds her using texts, tone, and timbre in a stunning display of virtuosity that sends the listener towards worlds of subterranean as well as ethereal delights.

Vinny Golia–Los Angeles CA.–4/22/2011

Recorded (7/10) and mixed (9/10-2/11) by Scott Fraser at Architecture, Los Angeles
Mastered (2/11) by Wayne Peet at Newzone Studio, Los Angeles
*2. Matisse – text: Gertrude Stein’s portrait of the artist Henri Matisse. Permission granted by the Estate of Gertrude Stein, through its Literary Executor, Mr. Stanford Gann, Jr. of Levin & Gann, P.A.
†5. Nothingness – text: “The Origin of Negation”, excerpt from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Essay On Nothingness, courtesy of Philosophical Library, Inc.
Painting on cover: “In Principio”, acrylic on wood panels, by Peter Veblen Van Fleet, 2010.
Photos of the musicians: © Steve De Groodt 2011. All rights reserved.
Design: Ted Killian
© Bonnie Barnett 2011. All rights reserved.
All music FMZ Music Co. (BMI)

BONNIE BARNETT, vocalist, composer and improviser, resides in Los Angeles. She appears on two DICE compilations and has three releases on Nine Winds, including the 2006 “Trio For Two”, a duo with bassist Ken Filiano. She has been exploring the texts of Gertrude Stein, Jean-Paul Sartre and others, and also delights in improvising faux text.

RICHARD WOOD, alto sax, flute and bass clarinet, resides in Los Angeles. Founding member of The And Now Ensemble, he continues to amaze southern California audiences with his intense, yet zany, performances. He has a new CD, “Not Far From Here”, for quintet and septet, which will be released this year on pfMentum.

HAL ONSERUD, bass, currently resides in Santa Barbara. A long-time player on the New York scene, his improvising collaborators include Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Bill Dixon, Vinny Golia, Jackson Krall and many others.

GARTH POWELL, percussionist extraordinaire, resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has releases out on Rastascan, Roadcone, Nine Winds, Evander, Beak Doctor and Leo, and has recorded with, among others, Jaap Blonk, John Butcher, Nels Cline, Peter Kowald, Bert Turetsky, Saadet Turkos and the London Improvisors Orchestra.

pfMENTUM CD063

PFMCD063

Dottie Grossman / Michael Vlatkovich: Call and Response (PFMCD021)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="402,399,401"]
Call and Response
Poems written and read by Dottie Grossman
Trombone improvisations by Michael Vlatkovich

1. If we lived on a mountaintop :44
2. The lady from Calcutta 1:05
3. What if another caveman 1:12
4. This poem is part cartoon :44
5. I’m grown up now :55
6. The hum of a place :58
7. In a sleep
In the dream
In recurring Cary Grant 1:34
8. Today I bought 1:04
9. In the canyons below 1:27
10. In the evening 1:33
11. There has been :44
12. Three Henny Youngman Poems 1:12
13. Dear Terre Haute 1:05
14. We waited the storm out 1:23
15. On a navy-blue night 1:29
16. Two about movie stars 1:34
17. The man who is more like
The murderer on his way 1:40
18. Ten P.M. 2:12
19. Six Short Cat Poems 2:04
20. The Man Who Loves His Job Makes A Poem 1:09
21. You make me laugh easily 1:27
22. Three Henny Youngman poems :58
23. Two appropriations 2:26
24. My hairdresser tells me 1:52
25. Daughter 2:52
26. In my pre-adolescent :46
27. Once upon a time 1:32
28. Two short ones 2:00
29. Three short ones 2:09
30. The weekend begins 1:35
31. Two in a row 2:46
32. Two about geography 2:02
33. Two more in a row 2:40
34. Two that seem to go together 1:19
35. …And three more Henny Youngman Poems 2:08

(c) 2004 Dottie Grossman and Michael Vlatkovich • Executive Producer: Jeff Gauthier
Art: Billy Mintz • Design and Layout: Jeff Kaiser and Dottie Grossman
Engineers: Garth Powell and Scott Looney • Best Boys: Garth Powell and Jeff Gauthier
Recorded: 6 March 2004, 1510 Studios, Oakland, CA
Recorded in real time with no overdubs or edits

A sampling of the poetry…

1.
If we lived on a mountaintop,
the fog would rise up every night,
so thick you could run a comb through it.
Every morning would look like a barbershop,
with wet floors full of leftover curls.

2.
The lady from Calcutta
is taking a breather
in the California sun.
She sits by the freeway
eating ice cream
and thinks that the freeway
is a kind of Ganges,
all foamy and shining with light.
Oh, lady from Calcutta,
you never had it so good.

3.
What if another caveman
had my hands,
after they saw me
through my teens
and spent the sixties
with me?
Could somebody else
respect that?
And would the tracery
of my lifeline
meander differently
on, say, you?

4.
This poem is part cartoon
and part injection.
I hope it has the clarity of wind chimes
or the bloody sparkle of broken glass.

5.
I’m grown up, now,
but I still find
human babies
menacing:
especially
the way they bob
their smiling,
ornamental heads.
I don’t trust them
when the filtered light
of winter
cleans the empty beach
between storms
and exposes
the desert hideouts
of dead Indians
and their toys.

6.
The hum of a place
tells me everything’s working.
I love the electrical breaths
of us and our gear,
doing pushups.

7. Three Poems…

1.
In a sleep
ruffled by guilt,
I dream of my family,
praying together,
childishly.
They are so small
that I suddenly understand
their common nightmare,
and why they call themselves
by one name.

2.
In the dream
of skyscrapers
as paper dolls,
each has its wardrobe
of tenants
that can be moved
around forever.

3.
In recurring Cary Grant
Dream Number One,
he appears on Christmas Eve
to bless the animals.

pfMENTUM CD021

PFMCD021