I recorded the album ‘Mannequins’ last January after about two years of writing and developing a way of playing the compositions. The record is a ~73 minute, 13-track arc of intricate and varied pieces.
The album features Jeremy Viner on tenor sax and clarinet; Matt Mitchell on piano, Prophet 6 synthesizer and electronics; and Adam Hopkins on bass. I play mostly drumset and percussion, and some vibraphone on certain tracks as well. I composed all the music, and we improvise with the material on almost all of the tracks.
The unconventional raw materials of the compositions demand a lot of the improvisers and lead to adventurous territory, and the spirit and approach to improvising is ultimately rooted in jazz. There is a mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds and a variety of track lengths, sequenced in a way that allows the listener some short, palate-cleansing interludes between long-form pieces, some outright left turns, and ultimately is intended as a single cohesive listen.
This is music for music’s sake, and because of the high level of skills of my band mates I was able to compose freely with no constraints, knowing they would be able to play and figure out how to fluently improvise with whatever rhythmic or harmonic materials I used. The music contains a lot of complex material that hasn’t been fully explored in the context of an improvising quartet, and that complexity is always for an aesthetic, artistic, emotional or visceral reason, in service to the music.
The music values sounds and abstract ideas and textures as much as the rhythmic/harmonic/melodic ‘language’ involved. Although the instrumentation is that of a classic jazz quartet with tenor sax, piano, bass, and drums, the sonic palate is significantly expanded with the use of synth, electronics, vibraphone and gongs, and Jeremy Viner playing clarinet instead of tenor on some tracks.
There is an audience that values music that is purely what a musician envisions and wants to create, especially when it’s oriented around forward-thinking ideas – music made without making adjustments to account for what is marketable, or easier to rehearse with a band and execute technically. I am a part of that audience as well as a bandleader writing and playing music rooted in that spirit.
‘Mannequins’ will be released on Skirl Records in June 2017, and the CD release concert will be June 13th at Korzo, in Brooklyn.