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

Antony DiGennaro: A Lonesome Fog (PFMCD051)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="469"]
1. Winston Niles Rumfoord 3:38
2. Insomnia I 1:23
3. A Foot Unsocked 4:22
4. Dunes 2:37
5. Sleep I 2:46
6. The Boatman Calls 2:41
7. Insomnia II 0:55
8. Sleep II 8:22
9. Hoist By One’s Own Petard 4:04
10. The Day of the Lobster 4:02
11. Insomnia III 2:39
12. The Giant 10:04

The music contained herein is merely a brief snapshot, expressing my state of mind at the moment of its conception and execution. It is also an homage to the beautiful and often overlooked natural landscapes that this country has to offer.
This music is all solo guitar, free of overdubs, electronic devices (except for microphones, amplifiers and guitar pickups) and post-processing, save for the mastering process.

Special thanks to members of tinhorn justice, plotz!, mossman, the dog of tears, sandra powers, wenchung lu, bob clendenen, wayne peet, steuart liebig, michael jon fink, vinny golia, barry schrader, susie allen, ulrich krieger, arthur jarvinen, doug maher, tom monaghan, owen cunningham, bryden and tessa digennaro, and the rest of my friends, teachers and family

Extreme special thanks to jeff kaiser, kyle ross and to my parents

Recorded/engineered by kyle ross at relec multimedia studios, val verde, ca
Produced/mixed by antony digennaro
Mastered by wayne peet at newzone studios, los angeles, ca
Graphic design by sandra powers with assistance by steuart liebig
Photography by antony digennaro

pfMENTUM CD051

PFMCD051

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

Dan Clucas / Immediately: Exile (PFMCD028)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="418"]
Dan Clucas: cornet
Brian Walsh: clarinet, tenor saxophone
Noah Phillips: guitar
Michael Ibarra: contrabass
Rich West: drums

1. Stating the Obvious (7:16)
2. You Say (for Bobby Bradford) (7:14)
3. Exile (for Astor Piazzolla) (8:11)
4. The Black Horn (for John Carter) (11:26)
5. Mothers and Daughters (4:24)
6. Wheat and Weeds (8:22)

all compositions by Dan Clucas, © 2005 Highland Rock Music (ASCAP)
– –

Recorded by Mark Wheaton 11/25/02
Mixed by Mark Wheaton and Rich West at Catasonic Studios, Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA
Mastered by Wayne Peet at Newzone Studio, Los Angeles, CA
Design and Layout by Jeremy Drake

– –

The imagination–it represents a futile gesture in the U.S.A.
–And yet the heart lives on it.
Allen Ginsberg, from Journals Mid-Fifties, 1954-1958

Exile is permanent. We are always aware of another locale, another point of view, another way of feeling the world, which could be ours but is not. We are also aware that our own tenuous realities are the exiles of others. We secretly suspect the greener grass to be not grass at all, but another substance entirely. Exiles long for a home from which they are displaced, or for the simple assurance of place itself. None of us is exempt; exile is not a feeling but a part of our true state.
This music came about at a time when my own sense of exile, encouraged by the events of the world, started to get the better of me. I wanted to say something that was HERE and NOW, so I wrote some music, got a band together, called it IMMEDIATELY, and we played some shows and made this recording. Whenever we played I knew that all the band members were fully present, and I felt at home. My sincere thanks to the musicians on this record, and special thanks to Rich West for the tons of support.
Dan Clucas
July 7, 2005

pfMENTUM CD028

PFMCD028