PFMCD001 - Ganz Andere - pfMENTUM

Jeff Kaiser and Vinny Golia: Ganz Andere (PFMCD001)

Jeff Kaiser

  1. Ganz Andere
  2. Son Of God In Garage With Rat


Ganz Andere

Jeff Kaiser: trumpet, ocarinas, guitar, voice and electronics.

Vinny Golia: piccolo, Chinese membrane flute, Bb clarinet, contra-alto clarinet and tenor sax

Robert Fludd: Art

1) Mysterium Tremendum 02:08

2) Moral Geometry I 08:37

3) Yellow Light Surrounding Shadow Outline of Large Man 06:08

4) Mysterium Fascinans 02:16

5) Son of God in Garage with Rat 09:16

6) Majestas 02:05

7) Man with Spider in Mouth 06:22

8) Ganz Andere 04:48

9) Coffin-like Hymns to God 04:13

10) Moral Geometry II 05:10

11.) Templum-Tempus 11:16

total 62:40

Released 01 January 1999

pfMENTUM CD001

PFMCD001

Jeff Kaiser Double Quartet: Nothing Is Not Breath (NWCD0206)

Jeff Kaiser

[Limited copies available.]

(Cover art by Ted Killian)

Nothing Is Not Breath — Jeff Kaiser Double Quartet

Jeff Kaiser, trumpet and pump organ; Michael Vlatkovich, trombone
Vinny Golia, woodwinds; Gene Doi, woodwinds
Jim Connolly, contrabass; Hannes Giger, contrabass
Brad Dutz, percussion; Richie West, percussion

Jeff Kaiser: Excerpts from the Prince (BTCD0295)

Jeff Kaiser

[Limited copies available.]

Excerpts from the Prince

All tracks composed and performed by Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, voice and electronics)

This music was created for The Prince, a theater work

Written, staged and directed by Taylor Kasch

Based on Niccolo Machiavelli’s book of the same title

Art Direction: Ted Killian

Photography: Chris Jensen

Recording Engineer: Tim Frantz

All selections ©1995 Jeff Kaiser ASCAP

 

Richard Valitutto / Dave Wilson: SLANT (PFMCD121)

Jeff Kaiser

SLANT

Richard Valitutto, piano
Dave Wilson, tenor saxophone

  1. set


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

*****************

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

*****************

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

*****************

PFMCD121

Jason Robinson / Janus Ensemble: Resonant Geographies (PFMLP115)

Jeff Kaiser

  1. Facing West (excerpt)


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

  1. Facing West (excerpt)


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

Stephanie Richards / Bert Turetzky / Vinny Golia: Trio Music (PFMCD117)

Jeff Kaiser

  1. Solana


Trio Music

Vinny Golia (Woodwinds and Ethnic Aerophones)
Steph Richards (Trumpet and Flugelhorn)
Bert Turetzky (Contrabass)

1. Solana 4:14
2. Proprioception 7:42
3. Cerberus 6:37
4. As I was Saying… 2:50
5. $19.95 4:32
6. Sunnyside Up 2:53
7. Desert Wind 3:11
8. Hector Shear makes his entrance…(could they really exist in Maine?) 3:56
9. Atazoy 3:39
10. The Paradox of Zazu Pitts 3:40
11. Descendant Un Escalier 2:34
12.The Duo That Became A Trio 7:26

This record documents a new encounter for Vinny, Steph, and Bert; a moment of unspoken calibration through collective expression. Listening fingers, a prose communion; sounds dance and combust. Trio Music shows three improvisors collectively negotiating the edges in a space of vibrant empathy.

Recording Date: April 23, 2017, Conrad Prebys Music Center, UC San Diego
Recording, Mastering and Producing Engineer: Andrew Munsey, June 7, 20-22, 2017
Graphics by Ted Killian

All music © 2018 Ninewinds, BMI and Welcome to my Kitchen, ASCAP

Special thanks to Jeff Kaiser, Andrew Munsey, and the University of California, San Diego 

pfMENTUM
PFMCD117
www.pfmentum.com

We have *four* exciting new releases for you

1) KaiBorg! Plus gigs in NYC and MO! Jeff Kaiser and David Borgo exploring new territory 2) Vinny Golia! With Steve Adams, Ken Filiano, and Tina Raymond 3) Trumpets & Basses featuring pfMENTUM veterans Danny Gouker, Adam Hopkins, and more! 4) Joshua Gerowitz’s exciting new release on CD, with vinyl coming soon! All available at pfMENTUM.com KaiBorg: Excerpts from Vibrant …

Adam Hopkins: Party Pack Ice (PFMCD107)

Jeff Kaiser

  1. Little Mathletes


Adam Hopkins: Party Pack ICE
(please note, this is an EP, the price has been reduced from our full price.)

1. 39.6432°N (1:43)
2. Little Mathletes (4:39)
3. Duckpin (1:44)
4. To Record Only Water For Ten Days (3:51)
5. Hobart’s Law of Kinetics (1:18)
6. The Stephanies (8:47)
7. 76.7408°W (2:00)

Adam Hopkins – bass, compositions
Patrick Breiner – tenor saxophone
Eric Trudel – tenor saxophone
Dustin Carlson – guitar
Nathan Ellman-Bell – drums

Released August 10, 2017

All music © 2017 Adam Hopkins / Add-Hop Music (BMI)
Recorded live by Nathaniel Morgan at iBeam Brooklyn, March 18, 2015.
Mixed and edited by Nathaniel Morgan at Buckminster Palace, 2016.
Mastered by Wayne Peet at Newzone Studio, 2017.
Artwork, layout, and design by TJ Huff, huffart.com.

Very sincere thanks to TJ Huff and Nathaniel Morgan–your artistic and musical visions exceeded all expectations in their contribution to this project. Special thanks to Jeff Kaiser, Maxwell Gualtieri, & Louis Lopez at pfMENTUM for their support and enthusiasm for this record, and for creative music as a whole. And finally thanks to friends, family, and places in Baltimore from various points in time over the past 7 years–you inspired this recording in pretty much every imaginable way.

pfMENTUM CD107
PFMCD107

Trevor Henthorn: Hipster Modular: Die Schlactensee Sets

Trevor Henthorn: Hipster Modular: Die Schlactensee Sets

1 Comment

Trevor Henthorn: Hipster Modular: Die Schlachtensee Sets

1. S1 Stücke 1-2 10:10
2. S2 Stücke 3-4 10:10
3. S3 Stücke 5-6 10:10
4. S4 Stücke 7-8 10:10
5. S5 Stücke 9-10 10:10
6. S6 Stücke 11-12 10:10
7. S7 Stücke 13-14 10:10

Englisch

Schlachtensee is a lake in the south west of Berlin, in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough, on the edge of the Grunewald forest. The lake lends its name to the surrounding area and which has been part of Berlin since 1920. While, it is the city’s most easily accessible lake (next door to both S- and U-Bahn stations), it is surprisingly free from hipster culture. Some have proposed that this state is intentional, claiming that the recent summer ban on dogs (the controversial “Hundeverbot”) is an underhanded attempt to curtail hipster-like activites.

The literal definition of a hipster is: “A person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.” Many consider Berlin to be one of the most hipster-friendly cities in the world, 2nd only to Brooklyn, New York. Schlactensee is sufficiently outside of the city, a 15 km hike from Kreutzberg (the hippest area of Berlin), and, so, is considered one of the rare “outside-of-outside” spaces (geographically, aesthetically and culturally).

Sonically, Schlachtensee hosts the expected lake-area sounds – water, rain, birds, bees and ducks, but also human contributions ranging from hikers using walking sticks and mal-maintained bicycles to the helicopters and trains just out of view.

This collection brings together a modularization of field recordings from the area with compositional form based on local, environmental photos, along with signal processing and synthesis techniques from the ’60s, ’80s and 21st century.

These are the Hipster Modular Schlachtensee Sets.

Für JAD, JN, und RW

released November 1, 2016

Angry Vegan™ Records
CD011

Elektronik August 2016
Hergestellt in Berlin, Budesrepublik, Deutschland
Schnitt und Mastering von T. Henthorn und J. Kaiser
Zusammengestellt von Hipster Modular
WhatIsModular.com
modular@WhatIsModular.com
www.facebook.com/HipsterModular/

Zum Export zugelassen
von Pan Handler Production
Trading Co., Ltd. vertrieben

henthorn5.2
Die Artefakte inspirierten den Klang:
Vielen Dank an Kaiser für den Generator. Fotografien von T. Henthorn.
Ausrüstung: Doepfter, PGH, Soundhack, Tiptop, Elektron, Moog, Catalinbread, EHX, KMI, Eventide, Earthquaker, Zoom, Rode, Ableton, KaiGen, iZotope, NI, DSP-Quattro, K-Devices, Max for Cats.

Hörspiel:
Zehn:Zehn x 7
Spielzeit 71 min 10 sek

Available for download: