Zen Widow: Screaming in Daytime (Makes Men Forget) (PFMCD069)

Jeff Kaiser

  1. Gifts We Have Forgotten


Zen Widow
Featuring Wadada Leo Smith

Zen Widow is:
Gianni Gebbia (alto saxophone)
Matthew Goodheart (grand piano, electro-acoustic gongs and cymbals)
Garth Powell (drums and percussion)
Special guest artist—Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet)

1. Gifts We Have Forgotten 13:05
2. Notated Memory 12:05
3. Black On White Paper 7:05
4. This Seeming Dream 7:36
5. Musa Physics 15:42
Total Time: 55:41

“Screaming in Daytime (makes men forget)” is Zen Widow’s third album, our first collaboration with Wadada Leo Smith, and it is in large part homage to tenor firebrand: Glenn Spearman.

Many of the melodies are constructed from fragments of his compositions. We inverted, rearranged, and modified what wasn’t completely new or created on the spot. Wishing to maintain the essence of Glenn’s rich compositional style was the priority, without resorting to a typical “tribute” collection of an artist’s past works.
All four of us worked with and deeply respected Glenn. I was a young artist right out of music school when I first worked with him. Already a master of the free jazz idiom, he was both thoughtful and generous to treat me as an equal given his age and experience. Although I frequently find myself thinking about the music we shared, this disc represents where the four of us are today—looking up and outward towards our friend.

The San Francisco Bay Area has been the home of a multitude of great artists as it continues to be. Yet, the fire and passion that was stoked throughout our community left a vacuum with Glenn’s passing. That loss is felt to this day. Glenn’s work with Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, The Glenn Spearman Double Trio with Larry Ochs, The Creative Music Orchestra with Marco Eneidi, and numerous other projects were all testaments to Glenn’s spirit and incredible power.

As improvisers we try to be in the moment, but it’s still hard not to gaze back and think of Glenn.

—Garth Powell 2012

I am very honored to dedicate this recording to Glenn Spearman, I worked with him only once at the Beanbenders concert series in Berkeley. I was very impressed by his solid sound, his gentleness and kindness of spirit. This recording is a double honor for me because of the great sounds of Wadada. He was the original soloist in the trio where I started my musical career with Peter Kowald and Gunther Baby Sommer. Wadada’s trumpet voice is the ideal to show our gratitude to Glenn.

Drops of Gold are falling forever in the long and everlasting dharma of the Great Black Music.

—Jòraku Gianni Gebbia 2012

In February of 1998, my group “Trio and. . .” played at the closing night of Radio Valencia in San Francisco. Performing was my regular line up of Glenn Spearman on tenor and Donald Robinson on drums, with Wadada Leo Smith as guest. The night was intense, beautiful, a fulfillment, these great artists sounding above those simple musical structures of my own making. A few weeks before I had been asked “If you could play with any musicians you wanted, who would it be?” My answer was: this group.

I did not know it at the time, but it was the beginning of an end of an era in Bay Area improvised music. Whatever forces drive certain moments in musicking, they had secretly begun to diverge. The group of artists centered around Radio Valencia moved to other venues. Glenn, in his own words, “went to join the ancestors” some nine months later. The scene slowly evolved into something else. The movement of that night, the deep interaction between Glenn and Wadada over the flux of the rhythm section, remains a personal embodiment of that time. All of these musicians had a profound impact on me, so generous in their time and artistry in support of a younger man struggling to find his formation. Glenn was my mentor; he brought me inside of his world, working closely, hours playing, absorbed in the details of his and our music. He taught me focus and intensity, maturity of vision. From Wadada I learned the concentrated, delicate, sensuous detail of shape and sculpture in each utterance. From Donald: flow, patience, attention, integrity.

To revisit Glenn’s music, over a decade after his death, with the collaborative Zen Widow and (once again) the generous addition of Wadada Leo Smith, moves into sound that complex network of events that exist as cadences in our lives. Glenn’s unending musicality calls back from the ancestors to play among the living.
I still learn from these artists, all of them. If asked again, if I could again play with any musicians I wanted, the answer again would be: this group.

—Matthew Goodheart 2012

Recorded Live to two-track analog at Ocean Way Recording—Studio A—Hollywood, California by Mike Ross (second engineer Patrick Spain)

Production and generous implementation of Audioquest microphone cables with DBS technology by Joe Harley

Mastered by Bernie Grundman—Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood, California

Disc Manufacturing and 1:1 glass mastering—Groove House, Woodland Hills, California

Graphic Layout and Design—John Benz, Petaluma, California

Photography: Front Cover: Heike Neubauer–Antoci, Mettanest Studio, Dresden, Germany
Back Cover Group Photo: David Swann Photography
Inside Face Group Photo: David Goggin

Special thanks to Shantee Maggie Baker, John Benz, Michael Ehlers, Marco Eniedi, David Goggin, Bernie Grundman, Joe Harley, Jeff Kaiser, Wayne Powell, Mike Ross, David and Susan Thompson, everyone at Ocean Way Recording Hollywood, and all of our friends across the world who tirelessly create and support improvised music.

All compositions by Gebbia, Goodheart, Powell, and Smith. Evolving Door Music BMI 2012, SIAE 2012
© 2012 All Rights Reserved

pfMENTUM CD069

PFMCD069

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

Jeff Kaiser

  1. And Who Is Not Small


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