Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
LEAP OF FAITH With PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / ERIC ZINMAN / SYD SMART / YURI ZBITNOV - Tangled Hierarchies (Evil Clown 9206; USA) Personnel: PEK on alto, tenor & bass saxes, bamboo soprano, clarinets, taragato, sheng & metal, Glynis Lomon on cello & aquasonics, Eric Zinman on piano, Syd Smart on electronic percussion and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, gong, wood & metals. Our New Year, February actually, begins with six discs from the ever-prolific Leap of Faith folks. The core members remain these three: PEK, Glynis Lomon & Yuri Zbitnov. The guests this time are two older fellows, Eric Zinman (last seen with Linda Sharrock at Victo) and Syd Smart, who has worked with Sam Rivers and Rabiq Hassan. This disc begins with a siren, minimal piano, suspense-filled cymbals & gong(s) and the eerie voice of Ms. Lomon. The set captured here was recorded at Outpost 186 in January of 2019, just a month ago. This quintet version of Leap of Faith is stripped down so that everyone gets a chance to solo and we can hear them all. Mr. PEK works with one reed or wind instrument at a time, taking a number of spirited solos. What stands out is the cello playing of Ms. Lomon, spiritual piano undertow by Mr. Zinman and percussion/dialogue from Yuri Zbitnov and Syd Smart. More cosmic music from mere mortals?!? - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
Review Excerpt by "Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
"... This quintet version of Leap of Faith is stripped down so that everyone gets a chance to solo and we can hear them all. Mr. PEK works with one reed or wind instrument at a time, taking a number of spirited solos. What stands out is the cello playing of Ms. Lomon, spiritual piano undertow by Mr. Zinman and percussion/dialogue from Yuri Zbitnov and Syd Smart. More cosmic music from mere mortals?!?" - Bruce Lee Gallanter (Full Review Below)
"A 2019 performance in Cambridge, MA of this intertwining quintet of unique instrumentation, with PEK on bamboo & bass saxophones, clarinets, contrabassoon, tarota, melodica, sheng, aquasonic, wood, metal, wind siren, crank siren, & chimes; Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic, & chimes; Eric Zinman on piano; Syd Smart on percussion; and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, gong, wood, metal, wind siren, & chimes."
Leap of Faith - Tangled Hierarchies
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA - 19 January 2019
PEK tweak of a PEK Photo
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Audio CD Evil Clown 9206
Leap of Faith - Tangled Hierarchies
1) Tangled Hierarchies - 10:10:37
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA
19 January 2019
PEK - bamboo soprano, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, clarinet & contralto clarinet, contrabassoon. tarota, melodica, sheng, aquasonic, wood, metal, wind & crank sirens, hand chimes, voice
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice, hand chimes
Eric Zinman - piano, piano interior
Syd Smart - Electronic percussion, voice
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, gong, wood, metal, wind siren, hand chimes, voice
Liner Notes by PEK
Leap of Faith is the core trio of the Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) comprised of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, double reeds & flutes, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion. The ensemble is based in Boston and dates back to the early 90s. We utilize a huge arsenal of additional Evil Clown instruments to improvise long works featuring transformations across highly varied sonorities. The ensemble has always been highly modular and our many recordings feature the core trio in dozens of configurations with a huge list of guests.
This particular performance has guests Eric Zinman on piano and Syd Smart on electronic percussion. Syd and Eric are the other 2 players in Glynis Lomon’s other trio, New Language Collaborative (NLC). NLC was active for the 10 years or so in the 00s and 10s while Leap of Faith was inactive due to my scheduling conflict with my day gig. Syd and Eric where also around in the 90s and all of us played together with Raqib Hassan and various other ensembles. Glynis, Syd and Eric go even back to the 80s, before I showed up in Boston in 1989. Both Syd & Eric have also been active in the Evil Clown scene with the Leap of Faith Orchestra, small format Leap of Faith ensembles, Metal Chaos Ensemble and String Theory. So, this mashup of two of Glynis’ bands has collective roots going back more than 30 years!
Despite these deep connections, this exact quintet has not previously performed, although we did an excellent sextet set (Leap of Faith – Irreducibility) with these 5 players plus relatively new arrival Albey onBass last September. Glynis and I decided we wanted to do this quintet set and I put it in the book for the January 2019 Outpost 186 show in the residency. For a week before the show, the talking heads on the TV kept warning of the giant storm coming across the country due to hammer us on the day of the gig… I generally schedule fewer shows during January and February, since New England always has bad weather days, and even when the weather is OK, it’s a pain in the ass to mobilize equipment with snow all around. My residency with Rob at Outpost 186 is a one-per-month arrangement, so I do schedule winter shows there which are occasionally cancelled for big storms. I hate to cancel anything, so I watched the weather news carefully, and it turned out that there was going to be snow, but not much accumulation until after the show was going to be over… So I got on the phone and persuaded all the players to participate despite the storm.
I’m really glad that we kept the show. We even had one audience member who braved the elements and made the performance in person! The collective experience of these 5 players really shows in the deep connections shown by tight transformations… I anticipated a stellar improvisation and was not disappointed. Look for more sets from this quintet Leap of Faith in the future!
PEK, 20 January 2019
Composer and multi-instrumentalist, PEK, set his sights on something bigger with the Leap of Faith Orchestra's Supernovae. The previous incarnation of the LOFO expands from the fifteen musicians on The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown, 2016) to twenty-one players on this new outing. Another noteworthy element of this project is PEK's use of Frame Notation where the score is seen in written descriptions and straight-forward symbols within Duration Bars. The system provides the musicians with immediate understanding of their own parts and the higher-level arrangement of the music.
Supernovae consists of a single track composition running just under eighty minutes. The digital download includes a bonus track. Though the extended piece is not broken out by formal movements, there are clear delineations within the score. PEK's ensemble—not surprisingly—includes enough non-traditional and weird instruments to compete with a Dr. Seuss orchestra. Though they are not playing in a vacuum, that group of instruments dominates the first ten minutes before strings and reeds make themselves more clearly heard. Forty-five minutes in, we have the first case of prolonged melody, darker and more subdued than the overall tone of the first half.
Supernovae gives way to free improvisation overlaying the melody. Eventually the piece introduces a brilliant percussion passage before it reintroduces the non-traditional music elements, but here in a more refined manner. As with all of PEK's compositions, there is—behind the scenes—a painstaking amount of organization that is not always evident in the listening. That is part of the beauty of this album; the non-traditional approach to instrumentation and the lack of adherence to Western structure continue to make the various iterations of Leap of Faith consistently interesting. And interesting look at the written score can be viewed at http://www.evilclown.rocks/lofo-supernovae-score.html.