Recorded live at the Crystal Theater in Missoula, MT.
Perceptions of “what jazz is” have fueled academic and public debate since the birth of jazz in the early 20th century. We believe that the unifying theme of jazz flows from the balance between structure and live improvisation, rather than any single recognizable sound or style. Technological musical tools (analog and digital audio-morphers, software, MIDI) have exploded in recent years to expand the repertoire of the live performer. In Electrickeries, we want to showcase a set of pieces that have the vibe of an art-music program, but are dually informed by jazz and by the electronic-music revolution occurring over the last three or four decades.
Each song lies at a particular set of coordinates in a Euclidean grid with two axes: one of dissonance-consonance and one of acoustic-electric; these serve as the polestars by which we navigate our compositional structures
We begin the first cycle with an original composition entitled The End of Time. We sought to capture the incredible dissonance available to us through the manipulations of machines, while still retaining the basis of time in jazz - the groove. The piece begins with a synthetic expression of creation - scatterings and molecules and atoms. It then morphs into structure, while finally deconstructing into the ticking-tocking of the Pianist, and finally a new scattering of molecules. We transition into the well-known jazz standard Some Other Time from the Bernstein musical On the Town. A leap into another realm entirely...
The final piece in this first song-cycle is entitled Voodoo Down. Inspired by the Miles Davis tune Miles Runs the Voodoo Down from the Bitches Brew album, this funky, sample-heavy number highlights our belief that jazz is being beautifully expanded today, and that creating novel expressions from historic material remains a cornerstone of jazz (even if these borrowings are electronic in nature).
Here, we open with Figments, originally composed as part of a duet for bass and solo dancer by Steve Kalling and dancer Clare Antonioli to explore the nature of collaboration and shared ideas. As in the original, each musician in our duo is a figment of the others’ imaginations. Dual improvisation and interplay are highlighted.
Next is an original composition by Keaton Wilson, Messiaen Around. Originally written for acoustic jazz quintet in 2007, the piece refers to the French composer Olivier Messiaen. Each chord in the song and the entire melody is based on of Messiaen’s Modes of Limited Transposition (the first three notes of three dorian scales, major thirds apart). While being whimsically dark dissonant (and simultaneously acoustic), this piece showcases the interplay between improvisation and modern classical music theory and form.
We then move to Sherbet (Zone 5), a tribute to our non-ironic love of 80’s pop-ballads (think Daryl Hall and John Oates). The name reflects the over-emotional sweetness that often typifies this style. The mostly-consonant backdrop of this song makes small moments of tension even more striking.
We end with another “time” inspired piece by Miles Davis. Considered the beginning of the electronic revolution’s serious influence on the shape of jazz, the album In a Silent Way represents the beginning of all the myriad unfoldings of sound and possibility. The title track, In a Silent Way begins with low drone and a simply stated melody capturing the beauty of an acoustic bowed bass. Keeping true to Miles’ original concept, we finish out with a transition into the final piece It’s About Time, a pseudo-funk song that gives both of us one more time to fly and returns us to the concept of time. This track is presented as a free download also on this site.
As an encore, we present a piece composed by Steve Kalling - Bubblegum Cowboy.
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