Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pillow People

Pillow People!! I have been going through old protools files edited/listening/bouncing through old sessions to try and delete some stuff and get some room. I found several sessions with no information on them, several duplicate sessions, one corrupted session that screwed me up for a bit, and some stuff I hadn't heard/remembered doing. I found one titled "Nov5A," with 6 tracks three unnamed and three named. The named tracks were "dark blue," "apples that smile" and "pillow people." They are free improvisations either duet with melodica and hand drums/percussion or trio with same instruments plus trumpets. All were made with my roommates at the time, my guess is november 2008 in our old house in Greeley Colorado. I bounced them to disc and later I think will transcribe them into compositions of their own right. Some of these I could see re-orchestrated for a jazz quartet/quintet. The thick sounding 3-5 note voicings on the melodica plus trumpet could make for some interesting sounds. I have been keeping in mind the "next record" with a combination of drums, bass, guitar, and a larger horn section of trumpet/alto sax/2 tenor saxes.

Anyway more on the topic is I would like to do more with transcribing free improvisations in different ways to open up them into compositions in their own right. I remember reading a Chris Speed interview about his band "Yeah no," and them playing free improv, him transcribing it, and then writing tunes using ideas from the free playing. I like the sounds of free playing, their is more timbral considerations in that than most jazz heavier improvisation. I have transcribed already all the free pieces from my album Quartet Art (yet to be released) so that their will be continuity in playing music from the album at the CD release (whenever that is). I think the next "album" I do should be all composed music, but composed music made out of material coming from free improv. The idea comes partially from Joan Miro who would start his paintings out with complete spontaneity and then at some point stop that process, and meticulous plan out and complete them with a total idea/concept in mind. My materials would be the transcriptions (and find different ways to present the transcriptions, normal vs. graphic notations, text, etc...) that I could manipulate into compositions. So transcribing the NOV 5A material gives me very simple, very open sounding music, that could easily be re-written for a larger ensemble.

THE OTHER fun find was an older project that I blogged about soon after making this blog was finding my Backyard Soundscapes file. It's 10 10 minute tracks of our backyard at different times in the day. I think I specifically recorded them so that they would be at different hours. My goal was to have 24 pieces of 10 minute audio, one from each hour of a day, but I never got that far. One of the tracks is not really usable because of a jazz trio recording in our house while i was outside recording. I thought it would work well, but it defeats the concept a bit. I bounced a track of it today of 9 tracks overlapping for 12 and a half minutes to use for a backdrop for improvisation. I think if I practice with it enough, especially with my prepared tools, it would make a good solo prepared bass piece with tape.

Going through old protools files is fun!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 top records!

Happy New Years!

Now that it's 2011 time to reflect on 2010. It's been a good past year for me, lotta ups lotta downs, but without a doubt a good music year! I have compiled a list of 2010 CDs that to me are a quintessential to the year! I preface this list with not knowing anything about the modern rock world with the exception to Wilco or Radiohead, and with modern classical music I'm also behind in the times with that..... so essentially this list is all jazz, or jazz-ish (the big umbrella). Also these are my own personal CDs of things I've bought/listened to and there are a lot of great releases that I haven't gotten to yet so they aren't listed (like new Tony Malaby, new Mary Halvorson, Marc Ribot, etc...)

1. Chris Speed, Oscar Noreiga, Jim Black, Trevor Dunn - Endangered blood

I was able to see this group in Colorado in December and they were selling their Skirl record release CD at the show, even though it's not available anywhere else. This was the best show without a shadow of a doubt that I have seen in all of 2010, incredible energy, great tunes, and very obvious that these guys have been playing with one another in various groups for years. They closed with an Ornette tune that was right up this band's alley (unfortunately not on the CD).

2. Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden - Jasmine

These two, as far as I know, have not played/recorded with one another for years, so it's nice to hear a duo record, of mostly beautiful ballads in this intimate setting. They recorded severals albums back in the 70s with Paul Motian and Dewey Redman, so to hear this reuinion is quite nice! I'm working on transcribing the bass parts right now, because my weaknesses are playing without a drummer AND playing slow tempos, so I'm getting a lot out of it. Charlie Haden's sense of time and phrasing is out of this world!

3. Dave Douglas - Spark of being (LP!)

Finally modern jazz groups are starting to release LPs!! I've seen it in the Bad Plus and in the new Fred Hersch record, but this is the first recent jazz LP purchase I have made. It sounds phenomenal, and I can't wait to hear this trilogy of albums with the modern silent movie that the music is written to accompany.

4. The Bad Plus - Never stop

The Bad Plus making an album without covers, and nothing is lacking whatsoever. The original compositions are great, I've heard several of them over the years at their live shows, so it's great to hear a nice studio record, great sounding recording of them doing what they do best. I love how much this group is a BAND and not just three guys that got together for a record date, surprisingly it is a rare concept in these times of modern improvised music.

5. Jon Irabagon - Foxy

Doxy for 70+ minutes!!! And it's completely enthralling, entertaining, emotionally high energy, GET THIS ALBUM! Who knew the extended saxophone solo legacy was still intact. The motivic development of ideas keeps it charging, and the back and forth of the saxophone and drums keeps the listener excited through the entire recording. I would love to hear how the tune starts and ends, since it is faded in and out for the album.

6. Ches Smith's These Arches - Finally out of my hands

I was waiting for this record for a while, luckily there were several high quality videos on youtube of this band playing so I was able to hear what they sounded like in advance. Ches Smith, Mary Halvorson, Tony Malaby, and Andrew Parkins! This group is an incredible fusing of some of my favorite musicians, and the compositions seem to push them into territory that I haven't heard before.

7. The Claudia Quintet + Gary Versace - Royal toast

The more Hollenbeck albums I hear, the more composed it sounds, and the more layers that are there. This, more than most Claudia Quintet records, sounds cinematic, in a very good way! I can't wait to hear more of his writing for any ensemble (this group being one of the best for their long history together).

8. Michael Formanek - The rub and the spare change

Really interesting record, not what I originally expected, which is great! Very cool tunes, awesome to hear Tim Berne play over more of a North Indian sounding piece. There's a lot of great material in this record, and Formanek has put together and amazing group of like minded musicians. More of this please!!

9. Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green - Apex

I haven't given this more than one listen, but so far an incredible sounding record. The dual saxophones play so well together I start to lose track of who is who. I need to check this one out more!

10. Jason Moran - Ten

Also, I have only given this one listen, but it will be coming back to my CD player very soon! Congrats on the Macarthur grant!! Always great to see a musician, and an improvising musician at that on the yearly list.


I new I forgot something! Pool School by Tom Rainey!!! WHAT A KILLING ALBUM!!! Tom Rainey is one of the best drummers in the idiom, and this is his first under his name as a leader. More please, and I would love to hear what his compositions might sound like!!